Skip to main content

Full text of "Lectures on the Book of Revelation"

See other formats


^v OF PRiNcTr^ 





<5^^UV OF FRI..,^^, 





.^lGi juim 1883 


The Lectures here presented to the reader were delivered about 
fifteen years ago, taken in shorthand, and printed in 1858-9 in 
a periodical form, with additions or retrenchments throughout. 
In 1861 a new and corrected edition appeared, preceded in 1860 
by a critical edition of the Greek text with a close English 
translation and a full statement of the authorities (MSS., versions, 
and early citations) and various readings in the notes. In 1868 a 
new edition in the periodical form was issued, and the following 
year again in the collected form. 

I trust that, in spite of many hindrances to such a revision as 
one might desire, the present edition will be found not only 
enlarged but more accurate, though few are likely to be so 
sensible of its defects as myself May the gracious Lord, who 
deigned to use it for the good of souls, even when certainly 
encumbered with greater drawbacks, bless its fresh circulation 
to the refreshment of His own and the warning of the careless 
or even the scornful among such as know Him not ! 



That the day in which we live is serious and fraught with 
change of the gravest character is doubted by no thoughtful 
mind. A sage of this world has issued his Latter-day Pamphlets. 
For near a century the air has been full of revolution. Men take 
pleasure, especially in experimental science, which has yielded 
not a few brilliant results, and some of them eminently prac- 
tical in facilitating the intercourse of men and minds. Hence a 
tendency to glorify success, especially in material things, and to 
look more than ever for progress in the future. The past is 
either slighted utterly or condoned patronisingly and with pity. 
All things are made matters of question. The age prepares to 
put the most venerable authority on its trial speculatively as it 
will in fact ere long. But it essays a more audacious flight ; it 
already counts itself wiser than God's word, and will soon accept 
a man as God Himself in His temple. 

Has the Holy Spirit wrought after no special sort in presence 
of Satan's activity and new wiles ? As it is according to God 
to work invariably for His own glory but in ways admirably 
adapted to the dangers and wants of His own, so has He proved 
in our day. He has recalled His children far and wide to 
Christ's person and work, to the Spirit and His presence, to their 
own forgotten privileges as Christians and the church now, as 
well as to the hope of His coming shortly. 

Hence if on one side the world's restless love of change has 
imperilled the solid hold of what is good and of God, on the 
other side grace has disabused many of prejudices, detected 
faulty or imperfect views, and opened hearts to truths stored in 



scripture but in vain till the Holy Ghost made them living. To 
this the powerful conviction that the Lord is at hand contributed 
largely, as it raised in hearts and consciences the solemn question 
of the church's state and of our own as individuals. 

Thus for good as for evil it does not satisfy to cite the ways 
and thoughts of men in the last few centuries. Some doubtless 
drench themselves with the dregs of the dark ages ; others go 
back to the impressions of the first four centuries after Christ, and 
think they have done much when they find themselves coinciding 
with the Greek or Latin ecclesiastics of those days. But not a 
few there are, I thank the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who 
have been taught of Him to confide only in the scriptures by 
the Spirit — not in testimony since the apostles, but in their 
divinely- inspired writings. 

If the spirit of revolution or of superstition slight the work 
which God effected by the labours of the reformers, faith values 
indeed and gives God thanks for what He did then, but goes 
straight up to the fresh fountains of revealed truth, and owns 
these to be the needed, sweet, and sure resource of divine grace 
for an hour when evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, 
deceiving and being deceived. 

It appears to me then that, while it is wanton to reject the 
work of the Lord's servants either at the Eeformation or in days 
before or since, it is not the wisdom which befits the believer at 
any time, least of all in face of our increasing snares and perils, 
to stop short of the sources which are as accessible to us as to 
those who originally received them, which only unbelief prompted 
men to forsake, to the grief of the Spirit and their own irre- 
parable loss. It is good to respect Luther, Calvin, Bucer, Cran- 
mer, Jewell; it is better — yea, a bounden duty to test what 
these said and others, respectable indeed but inferior to them, — 
to test their thoughts by the living and abiding word of God. 
Why swear to the words of an earthly master, or of a school 
which sprung later from his words, when God has vouchsafed 
His own, and given us the Spirit who abides in us for ever ? 

Rationalism can find not a little material and an apparent 
sanction for its own bolder impiety from the unguarded words 
of the greatest of reformers. Pious Protestanta cherish the 


memory of their works, and hang on their words as articles 
of faith and hope. But there is no need for the Christian to be 
a Protestant, no excuse for becoming a rationalist. Why not 
take the whole written word and trust the Holy Spirit to give 
us all the truth suited to the exigencies of to-day, as He was 
pleased to strengthen others yesterday? The word of God as 
such claims our homage as the sole rule, and this too as a whole, 
not that measure only which was blessed to and in others who 
have passed before us. The Keformation is not Christianity, 
nor are Luther and his fellows the apostle Paul and the other 

I am thoroughly convinced that the admirable men of the 
Eeformation, though greatly beyond those who followed in the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, were no more spiritually 
fit to traverse safely the field of prophecy than their descendants 
at the present time. It is a thing as unknown among Protes- 
tants as among Eomanists to meet with souls consciously dead 
to sin and law, standing fast in the liberty wherewith Christ 
makes free. Still less do they apprehend aright the union of 
saints with Christ by the Spirit, and the character of the as- 
sembly of God as the body of Christ or even as the house of 
God. Unacquainted with these truths, as little emancipated 
individually from every hindrance and bond as their systems 
are from the Popish leaven of a consecrated caste with its 
efficacious rites, they habitually gravitate toward Judaism, and 
this in a prophetic scheme quite as much as in doctrine and 

The grounds of this judgment the reader may find too abun- 
dantly, if otherwise he himself knows it not, in these lectures. 
It is useless, save for party purposes, to meet the charge by 
peremptory denial and haughty contempt, I am sure I love 
the reformers with a hearty affection in the Lord, as I do those 
who adopt their views as a standard in our day; but I believe 
that it is no disparagement to either if we, profiting it may be 
by their footsteps, seek to go on to know the word of the Lord 
more fully. 

The reader will see that there is frequent reference in these 
pages to Mr. E. B. Elliott's Horae Apocalypticae. I meant this 

a 2 


as an act of sincere respect to him and his elaborate commen- 
tary, the best representative of the Protestant school. It is 
with regret that one observes a. ruffled tone in his notice of my 
criticisms.* His answers I shall here review in the hope that he 
may be convinced of oversight at least in some important details, 
if not in grave first principles. 

And first I must say that it is not fairly put (i. p. 18) to 
assert that I, whom he is pleased to classify " on the Futurist 
side," have distinctly renounced many of the chief dogmas of 
the original " Futurist school." I might have let this pass, 
though in my opinion likely to produce the erroneous impression 
that I had put forth futurism once and since "renounced" many 
of its chief dogmas ; but taken along with his still stronger 
language in the same direction (iv. p. 644), it seemed due both to 
Mr. Elliott and to his readers to correct the error. " In fine (says 
he), we may, I think, safely conclude to receive Mr. W. Kelly's 
judgment, so far as it goes, in favour of the Protestant Historical 
view of the Apocalyptic prophecy, as that forced upon a person 
originally altogether prejudiced against it." Mr. E. has not 
the least warrant for these last words. I am sorry to occupy 
space about a personal matter. It is more important to state 
that, years before the first edition of the Home A^wcalyjHicae 
appeared in 1844, there were Christians who waited for Christ 
and looked for the personal Antichrist, with the many momen- 
tous consequences of both views, yet held the general application 
of the Apocalypse to the saints and the world since the time of 
St. John, as stated in my lectures. Nor ought ]\Ir. Elliott to 
have forgotten this (as I doubt not he did); for I have so told 
him orally and given him a work by a friend of mine to that 
effect, which was publiished in 1839. He should not therefore 
have spoken of "renouncing" futurist dogmas once entertained, 
any more than of "a person originally altogether opposed to 
the Protestant view." 

On another point too I am surprised that such a man should 

• Thus his note 3 to p. 643 is a groat exaggeration of anything I expected, 
which was, not that ho would abandon liis general scheme (no such exorbitant 
thought V)eing ever anticipated), but that ho might sec how incorrect wore some 
of his positions, not only in detailed points, but oven in the structural division 
of Rev. xxi. 


SO gravely misunderstand. He contrasts with Mr. Barker's 
vague and indefinite views my writing " distinctly and expressly, 
and moreover in a certain way authoritatively, as if speaking 
as the organ of a not unimportant party in the Christian 
Church" — this because of my using the word "we" sufficiently 
often to leave this impression, {e.g. Introd. p. ix.) Let me say in 
few words that I am simply comparing the thoughts of such 
as like myself admit a partial application of the Revelation to 
the past, but believe that the grand and close fulfilment of its 
central prophetic visions — vi. to xvi. — will be after the trans- 
lation of those set forth by the elders or glorified saints, and in 
order to their appearing with Christ in glory. I am not alone in 
these convictions, which are shared by many intelligent persons, 
both Anglican and Nonconformist, besides those who like myself 
refuse to take a sectarian place in the present chaos of Christen- 
dom. Whatever of "authoritativeness" was in my words is due 
solely to my firm conviction of the divine word, not in the least 
to being the organ of a party important or not, a thing as far 
from the fact as foreign to my own feeling and judgment of 
what is due to the Lord and the church. 

The first and main difference which severs Mr. E. and my- 
self as interpreting the book is his denial of that which to me 
is certain, that the epistles to the seven Asiatic churches were 
intended to give more than the actual state in St. John's day, 
and to figure successively the most characteristic phases of the 
church from apostolic times to the consummation. Mr. E. in a 
periodical long since defunct had urged some objections to the 
late Mr. Trotter's statement of similar convictions in his well- 
known Plain Papers. It seemed to Mr. E. inconsistent with the 
analogy of scripture prophecy and with plain fact.* 

My answer was that it is in vain to appeal to Dan. ii. vii. xi. 
or other such prophecies, which have no analogy with the 
addresses of the Lord Jesus to these Christian assemblies. 
These are manifestly sui generis and have no connexion with 
the fortunes of the world, or the successive rising and setting 
of its powers. Supposing such quasi -prophetic sketches to 

* I cite the substance of the remarks that follow from the Introduction of the 
same edition, pp. iv. - vi. 


have been intended of God, the intermingling of the chief 
changes of civil government among men would be to my 
mind an incongruous mixture, instead of being a necessary 
element of consistency. 

Next it is said to be contrary to plain fact ; because in more 
than one of the epistles the prominent characteristics of the 
church addressed disagree utterly from the state of the Christian 
church at the assigned era. So, for example, very specially in 
that to Thyatira, where nothing less than an unintentional* muti- 
lation is charged on the effort to make out a case at all plausible 
for applying it to the dominion of Popery in the dark ages, the 
eye being fixed on the exception Jezebel, not on the church 
in Thyatira. Whereas, instead of prevalent irreligion and the 
almost complete extinction of testimony for Christ, the epistle 
depicts a high state of piety in the general professing body 
there: and with the power in their hands, which it was their 
grand fault not duly to exercise, of interdicting and stopping 
the teaching of the woman Jezebel. 

Such is a full statement of this objection ; but it has no real 
force. For it must be borne in mind that our [i.e. Mr. T.'s and 
my] hypothesis assumes a twofold application, and therefore 

♦ In the H.A., iv. 642, note, Mr. E. says "Not ' iyitentionaV mutilation; as 
Mr. W. K. very unwarrantably represents mo as saying. I had, and have, too 
much regard for Mr. T. to entertain such an idea." This somewhat startled me, as 
I had certainly written as Mr. E. said K«intentional ; and so it was in all the copies* 
of my book that I could see. Accordingly I wrote to Mr. E. asking whether it 
was the fact that his copy of my book made me represent him as saying " inten- 
tional " where I had really written the precise reverse, as he said himself. It was 
possible of course that in his particular copy the printer might, by some singular 
accident if not intention, have thrown out the important prefix "un" which 
had led him to so strong and rash a charge against me, who certainly would not 
on any account misrepresent any man. INIr. E. wrote immediately a private 
acknowledgment that it was his mistake, not my misrepresentation. I under- 
stood from him that he had been troubled before he wrote his critique with an 
attack of a complaint which often leads men to see things in a wrong light. 
Any one is liable to a mistake, particularly if he writes a rejoinder, when it is 
not a case of the "double sight" he imputes metaphorically to mc in the same 
page, but under the influence of such a malady (not morally, but physically) 
not quite passed away. But I humbly think that ho owed it to the Lord, his 
readers, and himself, to have publicly corrected so gross and groundless an 
insinuation, instead of leaving it to mo now nine years after it was disseminated 
to all the world. 


necessarily shuts out a rigid facsimile, which supposes a single 
set of circumstances wherein it can be verified. The churches 
are addressed as such, that is, as standing on the footing on 
which Christ had set the church, though the evils that were 
come or coming in are notified to those churches as thus respon- 
sible. The address is not to Balaam or Jezebel, but to assem- 
blies where the germs of those symbolic forms of iniquity were 
found, and therein to those who had the consciousness of the 
Christian profession. Plainly therefore it is the character, not 
necessarily the extent, of the evil (or of the state, whatever it 
might be), which is or could be noticed here. If it was general 
deadness, such is the state indicated, and that in a particular 
order ; if the seductions of false teachers were aimed at, this is 
also found ; but in no case is there an attempt to define the 
extent of the sphere which might be thus leavened. 

Hence I do not see in Thyatira a broken centre in the array 
of evidence, but rather an unmistakably strong and conspicuous 
front. The solemn principle that appears in it is that even 
there the church was then the birthplace of children born to 
Jezebel in adultery. The point is not the number of her chil- 
dren ; but that, up to the Lord's warning, the saints accepted this 
condition of things. There might be ever so abundant works 
and service, faith and love. Still the evil of Jezebel was allowed. 
The good was no doubt far more prominent in the primitive 
Christian assembly, the evil no longer an exception winked at, 
but infinitely more developed and systematized in mediaeval 
Christendom ; though I am far from thinking that, in these 
dark ages, there may not have been an amount of loving though 
unintelligent devotedness, of which it becomes not men of the 
present hour to speak too lightly. In short the epistle applied 
literally to Thyatira in St. John's days, while for him who has 
ears to hear there is much to intimate a further reference to a 
time when Jezebel and her children might have the upper hand, 
a faithful remnant be defined most strikingly, and faith called 
to look onward to the Lord's coming as the only solace. 

It is quite the mistake of Mr. E. that this view implies that 
Protestants are "the synagogue of Satan." For I agree with 
many, living as well as dead, that Protestantism is set forth by 


Sardis. The other most sweeping sentence of the Holy Ghost 
prefigured those who msist on a traditional religion of sacramen- 
talism and succession, the modern Judaizers, who have put forth 
such painfully successful efforts to revive a system of doctrine 
and rites, which, nipped in the bud by apostolic vigilance, 
especially by St. Paul, afterwards expanded into gigantic pro- 
portions in the catholic days of early Christendom, even before 
the empire had renounced Paganism, and of course long before 
the full-blown Popery of Eome. (Compare Rev. ii. 9 with chap, 
iii. 9.) Can anything more exactly describe them, though good 
men, like a Barnabas of old, may be ensnared in it for a while ? 

The argument drawn from the agreement or from the discord 
of commentators, Mr. E. probably knows I do not consider 
entitled to much attention. But, from the days of Abbot Joachim 
at least till our own, it is impossible to deny that some of the 
most godly and thoughtful students of the book have embraced 
the view of a prophetic as well as historical sense of these 
epistles. Brightman, Forbes, Mede, More, Gill, Sir I. Newton, 
Vitringa, and Cuninghame, are among the names of departed 
writers, who might well claim respectful attention, especially 
from their companions of the Protestant school. Shades of 
difference there are between these and others ; but all agree in 
the common principle of a continuous and periodistic force 
appertaining to the seven epistles. And so far is this from being 
a peculiarity of those who look for a future personal Antichrist, 
that on the contrary mere futurism is opposed to it as decidedly 
as praeterism. 

In short I do not affirm that the seven epistles to the Asiatic 
churches are strictly prophetic, like " the things which must be 
after these," which are the prophecies of the book. But I do 
hold that, just as Daniel iii.-vi. gives us historical facts divinely 
selected, as is ever the case with inspiration, and in strict keeping 
as prophetic types with the formal visions of the prophet, so is 
it with the mystery of the seven golden candlesticks. They had, 
like the incidents recorded of the kings in Babylon, a bearing 
deeper than the history, and like them also they pave the way 
for the predictions which follow. As with all types or parables, 
it is only a cavil to insist on a technical minuteness of appli- 


cation in order to throw overboard the profound lessons of truth 
they convey to the circumcised ear. The objection of Mr. E, 
is the less reasonable in the instance of Thyatira, because in 
types every one familiar with them knows that the woman 
typically represents a given state, good or evil, the man rather 
activity in good or evil. On the other hand, it was important 
to guard against the notion that God sanctioned so frightful a 
state of Popery, which was but an enormous falling away from 
the truth, the real witnesses in His eyes being now " the rest" 
or " remnant," who were then first defined in this typico-historic 
sketch of Christendom. For myself, though I may fail to con- 
vince those who are strongly committed to a denial of the 
protracted view of " the things that are," I cannot see how, if 
the Spirit had designed such a view, the elements for it could 
have been otherwise so admirably disposed to that end without 
destroying its past use. What Mr. E. taunts as " a most curious 
double view" is really characteristic of scripture in general ; 
and of all the inspired writers, he who is at once the deepest 
and the most sober is tlie one who most frequently initiates us 
into this use of Old Testament facts and persons. That it should 
be employed in a more orderly method and a more complete 
measure in the Eevelation than in preceding books of prophecy 
is exactly in harmony with what is true in all other respects of 
that book as compared with the prophets who went before St. 
John. Why should deep-reaching perfectness be incredible in 
his eyes ? Ample reasons have been given for so interpreting 
these epistles, besides answering his objections in a way satis- 
factory to many unbiassed men. 

_N"or does Mr. E. attempt fairly to grapple with the vision 
of the twenty-four crowned elders in Rev. iv. v., corroborated by 
their position throughout the book, as proving the translation of 
the saints after the seven churches are closed and before the 
proper prophetic action begins. "A double view truly marvel- 
lous !" (p. 648) is a feeble reply to a plain fact which I urge 
afresh on Mr. E., and which neither he nor any other historicalist 
has ever fairly faced. There is scarce more difficulty in the mode 
of the twofold application here than in the ordinary difference of 
the type and its antitype (p. 644), Such a difference is credible 


to Mr. E. in the high priest literally and typically; nor is there 
a whit more of particularity in the Apocalypse than in Leviticus. 
The order and accuracy in detail are divinely perfect throughout 
scripture, though Dr. Fairbairn in his Typology is as slow to 
believe in the figures of the law as Mr. E. in those of the 
Apocalypse. I am sure that " my more intelligent readers " will 
agree with me that this is little to the credit of two men who 
have undertaken a task to which they prove themselves some- 
what unequal, and that such reasoning and pleasantry, or what- 
ever it may be best designated, will be acceptable to such only as 
feebly know the scriptures and the power of God. 

Thus was the case put in my former Introduction : "In passing 
it may here be asked, What satisfactory reason can historicalists 
offer for the occurrence of such scenes [as Eev. iv. v.] at this 
point ? It is easy to make remarks on the heavenly company 
and the Apocalyptic scenery; that is, particular points in the 
vision ; but why and how have we such a vision here at all ? 
There is no serious attempt that I know of to account for the 
disappearance of churches on earth thenceforward, nor for the 
fact that tlie full company of the royal priesthood, or at least 
the representative heads of all the courses, are then seen in 
heaven. What event was there in Mr. E.'s view, immediately 
before the reign of Nerva, which could call out the special joy 
and worship of heaven, or the new action with wliich God and 
the Lamb begin to occupy themselves ? If that wondrous change, 
the removal to heaven of the saints now glorified, be supposed 
to have taken place, all is explained. A turning point is reached 
in the application of the ways of God, who, having gathered to 
Himself His heavenly redeemed from the beginning to that 
epoch, then proceeds to reveal the process of His providence for 
accomplishing His earthly purposes to His own glory and that 
of Christ; that is. His future dealings, not as now with the one 
body wherein is neither Jew nor Gentile, but expressly with 
Israel and the nations, remnants of whom will be raised up to 
bear a testimony to the plans which God will have in hand. 
Not that He will not have His saints and witnesses among 
them both ; but they are so foreshown in the character of their 
experiences Godward and manward, and the attitude of God 


Himself toward them and men generally is so described, as to 
evince a condition essentially different from that which subsists 
now; and all most confirmatory of the idea that the rapture of 
the saints will then be an accomplished fact. Nothing simpler, 
if the church state, ' the things which are,' continue no longer, 
the risen saints be gone to meet the Lord in the air, and the eve 
of the great crisis of the earth come. Not a hint is dropped that 
the crowned and enthroned elders are disembodied spirits, but 
the contrary is implied in all that is said of them. When souls 
are meant, they are so specified, as in Eev. vi. and xx. Moreover 
the elders are a complete symbol. Whatever the special portion 
in glory assigned to subsequent sufferers, the elders remain a 
definite company from chap, iv, to xix., and receive no addition 
to their number. Their complement is made up from the first 
presentation above, and that figure only vanishes when the 
marriage of the Lamb is come, and a new symbol is needed to 
convey the new circumstances of the saints already transfigured 
and taken to heaven. 

"On the protracted Protestant scheme, which I believe to 
have a certain measure of truth, the vision may be regarded 
vaguely as a sort of pictured pledge, or perhaps anticipation, of 
the church's heavenly glory, while the providential actings of 
God toward the world are afterwards unfolded. But when we 
raise the question of exact and full interpretation, I see no 
reason to doubt that these chapters reveal the position of the 
glorified saints above, after churches are no longer spoken of on 
earth, and Ijefore the Lord and His armies emerge from heaven 
for the war witli the beast and the reign over the earth. It is 
properly a scene in heaven after the actual ecclesiastical state is 
closed, and before the millennium commences — a scene which 
inaugurates the very momentous interval between the two, when 
it becomes a question of judicial inflictions from God, and new 
classes of saints, invested with a testimony most appreciably 
distinct from the church, are called to glorify Him in the midst 
of the fires." 

If Mr. E. thinks he has truth, and cares for many who believe 
him utterly wrong as to this which I am convinced is the key 
to the just and full understanding of the Apocalypse, he would 


do well to put forth all he can in meeting the brief statement 
now repeated with the detailed proofs which are continually 
referred to as evidence presents itself through my lectures on 
the Eevelation. If I am right, the closer his examination the 
less he will have to regret it ; if he can shew me wrong, I trust 
I shall be truly grateful for his serving the Lord in correcting 
me and those swayed by my statements. 

In his tabular scheme given of the Apocalyptic plan according 
to my thoughts (p. 645), I have only to remark that it is tlie 
coming Eoman prince who breaks covenant with the Jews, veiy 
likely in concert with the Antichrist or wilful king in the holy 
land; that is, the beast from the sea in all probability along 
with the second beast (from the earth or land), if we speak in 
the symbolic language of Eev. xiii. As they are thus of one 
mind and policy, the confusion of these two practically is of 
little moment. Not so if (as I understand Mr. E.'s vi.) he makes 
me teach that the Assyrian is the last head of the re-united 
Eoman empire. The Assyrian may be identified, as I judge, 
with the king of the north (Dan. xi.), but he is certainly not the 
Apocalyptic beast from the abyss, any more than he is the king in 
the holy land with whom he wages war at the time of the end. 
I wonder that an intelligent man like the author of ^. -4. could 
so misconstrue some of the main points of my book, whereon I 
have strongly objected to the muddle of ancients and moderns. 
Here Mr. E. seems to make me just like the rest where I stand 
firmly opposed. So again I do not understand his representing 
my thought thus at the close of all — 

" Great white Throne. 
1000 days." 
Can any reader divine ? It crossed me that he perhaps meant 
1000 years ; but he knows well that I consider hh putting the 
great white throne before, instead of after, the thousand years 
and the short space that follows, a blunder of the greatest mag- 
nitude, though he is not quite alone : two writers at least had 
preceded him in so flagrant a perversion of the chapter. But 
1000 days or years are alike wrongly imputed to me ; for I judge 
that eternity (the new heaven and earth in the most absolute 
sense) is the one and only thing that follows the resurrection 


and judgment of the wicked dead, who have their portion in the 
lake of fire. 

In his "Addendum" (pp. 644-653) Mr. E. complains of sundry 
strong animadversions of mine on certain points of his Apoca- 
lyptic Exposition "by no means altogether in that spirit of 
fairness and candour which might have been anticipated from 
the courteous notice of myself and my Commentary in his 
Introduction." He has certainly overrated the careful study 
I had given to the H. A., though it is true that I bore in review 
the book as a whole in revising the reports of my lectures for 
the press. These he arranges under two heads as follows : — 1st, 
Mr. E.'s asserted errors in the adoption of certain wrong readings 
of the Apocalyptic Greek Text, as readings of quite insufficient 
authority ; 2ndly, asserted errors in certain of his renderings 
of the Greek, and of his historical applications of the prophecy. 
" 1. Asserted erroneous readings of the Greek text preferred in the 
Horae." Of these Mr. E. selects four, which he seems to think 
most important. 

" 1. In Apoc. xi. 8, Mr. E. repeatedly but incorrectly, of course 
through oversight, represents the reading in the critical editions 

[he says now] ctti rqs TrXaruas ttjs rrokews rrjs /AcyaAiyy (contradis- 

tinctively, I presume, to ttX. ttoA. tt/s /^ey., without the tyjs). So 
Mr. K., p. 198." The reader will be surprised, and I doubt not 
Mr. E. himself, to hear that I do nothing of the kind ; and that 
Mr. E. not only misunderstood but misquotes me is the whole 
point of the matter. What I really say is, " Were the reading such 
as Mr. E. repeatedly represents it (of course through oversight), 
7rAaT£ta rrjs ir. ttjs fji- (H. A., [4th ed.] vol. ii. p. 396, note 4, and 
yet more incorrectly in vol. iv. p. 543, note 2), there had been 
no room for this rendering ['the great street of the city'], which 
some very competent judges prefer." 

Eeally it is beyond measure careless to add a fresh series of 
blunders now. The fact is, though it was always in my eyes a 
point of no moment, Mr. E. misquoted the Greek text from the 
New Testament in his fourth edition, and misquotes me in his 
fifth, and has evidently not seen that all this is exclusively and 
inexcusably his own mistake, which strongly illustrates my 
accusation of the great want of critical knowledge and tact, not 


only a conspicuous feature in a man of his general ability, and 
acquirements, but most injurious to a commentator on a book 
which from its wretched state in the received text demands these 
qualities more than any other in the New Testament. 

Here then I reiterate to the letter my statement, which Mr. E. 
must see, if instead of trying to defend himself from a charge 
of nothing more than oversight, he will kindly compare the 
two references to his fourth edition according to my note. I did 
not object to the rrjs, for it is my own reading, as it is that of 
every critical editor of the Revelation, save Griesbach and 
Scholz. But in that fourth edition he misquoted TrXaTcta for 
7r\aT€ias, the unquestionable reading of all jNISS.; but on the 
second occasion referred to he says ev ry TrXaTcto, rqs TroXcwy Tqs 
fieyakrjs, which differs in the first three words from every known 
copy and edition. Had Mr E. taken the trouble to read his own 
quotations with my remark, comparing both with any Greek 
Testament whatever (not to speak of a critical edition), he would 
have seen that I was simply correcting two misquotations of 
his, the last much the worst, which last is repeated once more 
with its three first words quite wrong in the 5th edition, iv. 579, 
note 1 — not p. 580, which contains no such reference. "What Mr. 
E. deduces at the end of the paragraph of course therefore falls 
to the ground. The whole case is no bad example of the extreme 
looseness of citation in the H. A. Had he looked into my 
Greek text, he would have seen that I read as all save the two 
already named, who seem to have neglected entirely their own 
evidence, as well as much since better known. Bishop Middleton 
is quite right in what he says that the article is required before 
TToXeois. Even the Complutensian edition is correct, and though 
Erasmus introduced the error into the first published edition and 
all those which followed, it is now known that it was his own 
error, not the bad reading of his manuscrij^t ; for Codex Reuch- 
lini exhibits tVi Ttjs ttX. Trjt ir. 

"2. At page 203 Mr. K. animadverts on my preferring the 

reading rjvoiyrj 6 vaoj Tov 0eou ev to) ovpavio, in Apoc. xi. 19, to rjvoiyr] 6 

vaos TOV 0. 6 €v TO) ovp., which he regards as that of best MS. autho- 
rity. In reply to which charge I have to say that what I prefer 
is the reading of Griesbach, Scholz, Heinrichs, Tregelles, Alford; 


Wordsworth alone of the critical editors by me prefening the 
other reading." 

What I do say in my page 203 makes Mr. E.'s present state- 
ment just cited more serious than the former one, and is to my 
mind unaccountable in a careful scholar. "The true reading 
is probably 6 cv tw oipavw (i.e. which is in heaven). At any rate, 
so the Alexandrian and the Paris rescript, the Leicester, a Vati- 
can cursive (579), the Middlehill, the Montfort, and one of the 
Parham (17) manuscripts say, not to speak of the Cod. Coislin. 
of Andreas and Victorinus. Mr. E. is also quite wrong in 
saying that ' according to Tregelles this is a mistake.' It is true 
that in his first edition, he omits this various reading, though 
long before noted by Walton, Mill, Bengel (Wetstein probably 
[I now add certainly]), and even adopted without question in 
the text, not of Wordsworth only, but of Lachmann and 
Tischendorf, as it appears to be by Tregelles, judging from the 
new edition of 1859 [which gave the English only, not the 
Greek]. How it was that Mr. E. did not find it in the critical 
editions of Griesbach and of Scholz, it is not for me to say ; but 
there it unquestionably may be found by any who examine 
them. In Hahn's manual one could not rightly expect such a 
thing." Such was my notice of Mr. E.'s note 5, page 478, 
vol. ii., fourth edition, where he had the temerity to say "Words- 
worth reads 6 vaos rov ©eov 6 ev TO) ovpavio, with the article 6 : as if 
in A and C. [! !] But according to Tregelles this is a mistake. 
Nor do I find it in any of the critical editions, whether Gries- 
bach, Scholz, Hahn, Tregelles, or Heinrichs. And in the parallel 
passage, Apoc. xv. 5, Wordsworth, as well as all the others, 
read rjvotyr] 6 vaos . . . ev T<a ovpavw." Now it must be evident to 
any candid mind that my fault with Mr. E. was not the question 
of adopting o, for I myself bracketed it in my Greek text, and 
therefore doubted it more than the greatest of modern critics, 
and only used the word "probably" in the note before Mr. E. 
What I charged him with was the extraordinary tissue of errors, 
which he now, one is sorry to see, evades by an argument about 
the reading. He distinctly affirmed in his fourth edition that 
when W. read the disputed 6 as if in A and C, this was a 
mistake according to Tregelles. I denied both the mistake and 


that T. says anything of the sort. Dr. T. knows the readings of 
the Eevelation far too well to be guilty of an assertion so mon- 
strous in the eyes of any one acquainted with such matters. 
He never said so. He omitted this various reading in his first 
edition — a rare fault with him; for the book was in most respects 
very well done and abounded in sound information. But T.'s 
omission (which the most careful may fall into sometimes) is no 
warrant for using his name to deny o to be the reading of A and 
C, as it certainly is. And I corroborated this by referring to 
Tregelles's new edition (English) of 1859, in which he gives 
the clause, "And the temple of God* which is in heaven was 
opened." This can leave no doubt how utterly mistaken Mr. E. 
was. Further, though not adopted in the text of Griesbach or 
Scholz, the reading is given with the authorities then ascertained. 
I must add too that the changes in the new note seem to shew 
that Mr. E. was aware in measure that his statement in the 
fourth edition could not be justified. For he has materially 
modified the matter in liis fifth edition (ii. 489, note 5) : 
"Wordsworth comments on this, as if 6 vaos tov ©eou 6 ev iw ovpavio, 
with the article 6, were the true reading. But such is not the 
case. I do not find it in any of the critical editions, whether of 
Griesbach, Scholz, Hahn, Tregelles, Heinrichs, or Wordsworth 
himself Moreover, in the parallel," &c. It is some satisfaction 
to me that, if Mr. E. defends himself so bravely in vol iv. when 
he is criticising me, it is very plain that he silently used the 
correction afforded as to some of the chief points here which 
disappear from the fifth edition as compared with the fourth. It 
is odd to class Hahn and Heinrichs with the principal crracs, 
and to leave out several which have cleared the ground or 
advanced the frontiers since Griesbach and Scholz. I presume 
the reason why Mr. E. could not find the reading 6 in the critical 
editions is that he uses mere manuals, not their real editions 
wherein they present the various readings whether adopted or 
not. But the question here with Mr. E. was not the reading 
but the facts which were altogether misstated in ed. 4, and only 
in part stated rightly in ed. 5. It is a province, as I have always 

* In his explanation of marks used Dr. T. says, " An anten'^k (*) is inserted 
wlicncvor the ancient text differs from the modern." 


judged, in which Mr. E. is not at home; and the self-defence, 
he may be assured, will only fix it more by calling attention to 
the facts among all who are competent to form a solid opinion 
on the subject. 

Lastly Mr. E. states what is absolutely contrary to fact when 
he says in his zeal that "Mr. Kelly, indeed, would here too 
[Apoc. XV. 5] read 6 ev tw ovpavio : for he gives as the English, 
'the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was 
opened ; ' not ' was opened in heaven.' But altogether, so far as 
I know, without authority. And why ? It seems to be onlj/ 
because of its suiting his peculiar interpretation of the passage, 
and idea of the Apocalyptic scenery ; the very fault he has so 
often and wrongly ascribed to me." 

The simple answer to all this is that I do not read 6 in Eev. 
XV. 5, as Mr. E. may see in the Greek text published the year 
before the edition of the lectures he cites, which is there trans- 
lated as nearly as possible in the order of the Greek, "there was 
opened the testimony of the tabernacle in heaven." Eurther it 
is not the fact that in giving the words as he says in the lecture 
I make the smallest use of them in the way he imputes as a 
motive to me. The whole of this remark therefore is due to 
imagination, and certainly not of a noble or amiable kind. 

" 3rdly comes m}^ adoption in the fourth seal (IT. A., vol. i. 
p. 189, 4th ed., or in this 5th ed., p. 201) of a reading corre- 
spondent with Jerome's well known Latin translation in the 
Vulgate, super quatuor partes terras, ' on the four parts of the 
earth;' instead of that found in our Greek MSS. all but [is it 
not altogether?] universally, ctti to rerapTov rrjs yr]s, 'on the fourth 
part of the earth.'" Here the case is simple enough. There are 
five uncial MSS. of the Eevelation, and upwards of a hundred 
cursives, in not one of which lias there been found the smallest 
ground for justifying Jerome's " quatuor partes." Two or three 
later Latins who used the Vulgate (not always without dis- 
crepancy) give the same very naturally; but neither Greek 
ecclesiastical writer nor Oriental, nor any version save the Vul- 
gate, countenances the change. In my judgment it is critically 
discreditable and doctrinally dangerous to adopt such a change 
on such a precarious footing. Nothing like it can be produced 



from the entire New Testament. Why should it be here ? How 
much better to leave the ditHculty unsolved than to adopt a 
resource so desperate ? Mr. E. refers to my own principle of 
using internal evidence. Certainly I do to decide between read- 
ings with good external support on botli sides, never where all 
the direct witnesses are on one side, and you have hear -say 
evidence of one type on the other side. The rest of Mr. E.'8 
reasons and remarks as to this I can happily leave with a brief 
answer. That there should be difficulty according to the his- 
torical scheme in finding a precise fulfilment of "the fourth 
part" I can well believe ; but this is in perfect harmony with 
my view, which supposes vagueness in that application and 
precision only in the future. In itself the fourth part is tho- 
roughly plain and intelligible. That it cannot be readily adjusted 
to history is an obstacle to Mr. E., not to me. 

"4. There is noticed by Mr. K. 'the flagrant proof of my 
proneness to prefer a manifestly spurious reading where my 
hypothesis requires' in my preference of €7rt to Orjpiov to Kai to 
6r]p. in Apoc. xvii. 16. So W. K., p. 304. And no doubt the 
evidence of Greek MSS. is very strong in favour of the kqi. 
Moreover, I have in the course of this last revision of my book 
found that I was mistaken in supposing that the early Hippolyiiis 
read ctti, in common with the early Latin Father Tertullian, and 
also probably with Jerome ; being misled by the Latin translation 
of Ilippolytus' ' De Christo et Antichristo.' Hence my confidence 
in decidedly preferring the ctti is less strong than before." As 
Mr. E. speaks thus moderately of the point raised, I do not feel 
it needful to swell this introduction with an answer to his stout 
defence of the Protestant scheme and assault on futurism, sup- 
posing Kttt to be the true reading, as I am satisfied it is. Any 
one who knows Mr. E.'s system will be able to judge, spite of 
his arguments, whether his system can sustain the shock given 
to it by the inspired prediction that the beast and the ten horns 
unite their fury against Kome, first in rendering it contemptible, 
next in enriching themselves with its substance, and lastly 
in its destruction. The effort to bring in the beast joining 
the Goths and Vandals to destroy the old heathen city is more 
worthy of "Bossuet than of Mr. E. ; and the rather as the phrase 


of the Spirit is most precise. It is the whore, not the woman 
merely ; that is, it is the corrvipt religious state, not Rome 
viewed simply as a city. Further, it is a state of final revulsion 
aft&r the beast had carried her in ease and honour and influence, 
and just hefore, the war of the beast and the kings with the 
Lamb. Any spiritual man can judge whether this suits the 
Protestant scheme of the prophecy. 

" 1. Says Mr. Kelly, ' Mr. E. contends for the strangest possible 
version of ets, 2^% = after, or at the expiration of the aggregated 
period, of the hour, day, month, and year in Apoc. ix. 15.' So 
p. 150. When Mr. K. has shewn that the same Greek preposi- 
tion placed before a time, times, and half a time in Dan. xii., as 
well as before the 1335 days in a verse immediately following, 
does not mean hefore [it should be afte,r\ or at the exjyiration of, 
those aggregated periods, he will be in a better position for so 
expressing himself about my rendering of the clause in Apoc. 
ix. 15. But, though he had these parallel passages before his 
eyes in my Commentary, as very mainly my justification in the 
rendering of Apoc. ix. 15, Mr. K. makes no allusion to them." 

Mr. E. should have understood better my motive for silence. 
The two passages "very mainly" rested on for justification are 
not parallel. The first certainly cannot bear the smallest ap- 
proach to the meaning he would put on them. Indeed Mr. E. 
gives the Greek according to the received punctuation (not as 
he says of the Septuagint copies, but) of Theodotion's version, 
and then translates without regard to that punctuation ; for he 
clearly should put at least a comma at the end of the clause, 
the effect of which would be nearly what he gives with a period 
in his foot-note. But, to avoid the smallest charge of forcing 
anything, I shall cite Sir L. C. L. Brenton's version, "that it 
should he for a time of times* and half a time : when the dis- 
persion is ended, they shall know these things." Now if this 
be so, this witness must disappear. 

But Mr. E. is very confident as to verse 12, where however 
Sir C. B. equally fails him, for he translates it thus, " Blessed is 
he that waits and comes to the thousand three hundred and 

* So it is in Holmes and Parsons' text, ilg Knipbv Kaipwv Kal ijfi. Kaipov. 
Many MSS. and editions however give Kaipovg for KaipCJv. 

h 2 


thirty-jfive days." This latest and most exact rendering of the 
Greek Bible is then opposed to the desired issue. 

But I must go farther, while allowing of course that 
there are cases where «« may mean for the space, or to the 
amount of, as ds iviavrov " for a year," that is, not till it begins 
merely, but for that term. Such I believe is the true sense of 
the last case, not after or at the expiration of, which even, if true 
in fact for the blessed person, is in no way the sense of the 
word either here or anywhere else. But the important point 
which every scholar must see is that the structure of the clause 
in Eevelation has nothing akin to that in Daniel, on which 
depends the precise shade of meaning intended and legitimate. 
Mr. E.'s notions are most vague and uncritical, as I have often 
had occasion to notice with regret ; and he is mistaken if he 
thinks that the examples adduced could not be multiplied. Thus 
he reasons at length on the possible difference of dTroKTetVwo-iv, as 
if it might be taken either as tlie present or as the aorist subj. ; 
whereas the real turning point is the connexion with rfToifxaa- 
fx.ivoL, as well as with the purpose expressed in the last clause. 
Now I affirm, without fear of contradiction from any un- 
biassed man competent to deal with these questions, that the 
sense of such a phrase is and can only be " prepared for, or as 
we say idiomatically against, the hour," &c. 'No doubt those 
are wrong who confound the perfect participle with either the 
present or the aorist. It is neither the course of preparation 
nor the simple historical fact that they were prepared, but the 
present result of a past preparation, as usual in such forms. 
But this does not touch the true force of ««, any more than the 
question wliether the slaying the third of men be a continuous 
action, or one viewed as summed up in its conclusion. The 
nearest and a true parallel that I observe in the New Testa- 
ment is John xii. 7, ets t^i' rj/xepav tow evTafjuacrfJioii fJ.ov TiTrjp-qMv 

avTo. Here it is the finite verb, not the participle; but this 
does not affect the question. Indeed the sense is beyond con- 
troversy. It was for or against the day of Christ's burial she 
had kept the unguent, certainly not after or at its expiration, 
whatever others may have done. It is just the same with the 
phrase in the Eevelation, though the nature of the case may 


forbid the absurdity of after being so conspicuous. Had it been 
said in Dan. xii. " Blessed is he that comes to the 1260 days," 
or even to the 1290 days, I could understand Mr. E.'s argument, 
though even so it would seem to me invalid. But the period is 
one which overlaps these times of horror and destruction, and, 
as I believe, goes up to the day of settling Judah and Israel in 
the land, though the millennial age may not be in its full cha- 
racter till the 1335 days. We can readily see then that he who 
arrives at these days is blessed indeed. And the Hebrew confirms 
this as the true meaning. But in Rev. ix. it is an aggregated 
period which must elapse before the end of the slaying. To 
begin the work of slaughter at the end of that period is contrary 
to all analogy of dates, and untenable according to the true 
force of the phrase employed. If «« can mean after, it can as 
truly mean hefore, and language would dissolve into a linguistic 
chaos. It appears therefore that Mr. E. by his bold challenge 
only secures the exposure of his erroneous criticism ; and with 
all the respect that I retain for excellent points in the book, 
it appears to me plain enough that critical acumen in the Greek 
tongue is as weak a point in the Horae Ajjoc. as acquaintance 
with the sources of the text and the comparative value of 

" 2. I utterly reject Mr. E.'s statement that ' at one and the 
same time' is the true rendering of the Greek phrase in Apoc. 
xvii. of fji.tav wpav /xcra rov 6-qpiov. It sliould be, he says, for the 
same time, marking duration, not epoch or occasion. So Mr. K., 
p. 300. But as in the preceding case, so here let me say, when 
Mr. K. has succeeded in setting aside the parallels of John iv, 
52, Acts X. 3, and Eev. iii, 3, adduced by me in loc, where 
the accusative of time is unquestionably in the sense of epoch at 
which, it will be time enough to reply to him further on this 

How others may regard such an answer it is not for me to 
say. But I avow that to me the effort to escape the regular 
rule in the use of the accusative and the dative of time seems 
far beneath a Christian of less reputation than the author oi H.A. 
For there is not the remotest resemblance between these three 
exceptional instances culled out of the New Testament and the 


ordinary construction under which falls Eev. xvii. 12. This I 
pointed out at some length in the note to which the citation 
refers. There is no rule whatever without an exception. What 
can one think of the judgment which musters a few exceptions 
against the plainest examples of a plain principle of the Greek 
language? The true scholar would rather seek to understand 
what lay secretly under the three irregularities, and thus to 
account for them, instead of perverting them to set aside instances 
where no such modifying influences wrought. 

Thus, to take the first, any scholar ought to observe that the 
reason why the accusative is found is not because it can ever in 
itself mean the point at which a given fact occurred. This is 
the force of the temporal dative, though it properly requires the 
preposition iv to define it. The accusative here is due solely to 
the context. The courtier enquired from liis servant rqv Sipav in 
which his son got better. And they said to him, Yesterday 
wpav e/S86fxr}v the fever left him. It is the former clause which 
thus influences the latter. But this would not justify the con- 
clusion that, when such a disturbing cause did not interfere, the 
accusative could have been employed per se. Hence in the very 
next verse, wlien it does not operate, the grammar returns to its 
ordinary conditions. The father knew tlierefore that it was eV 

rfi wpa ev tj k.t.A. 

As to the second, Mr. E. is not entitled to cite it, because the 
very best manuscripts, the Sinai, Alexandrian, Vatican, Palimp- 
sest of Paris, and the Laudian of Oxford, with more than twenty 
cursives and other authorities, give wo-ci Trepi u>pav ivdrrjv, and so 
it is edited by Alford, Lachmann, Tregelles, as well as Tischen- 
dorf in his most recent (8th) edition. 

There remains only Rev. iii. 4, which is strange indeed either 
to misunderstand in itself or to compare with the phrase in 
debate. The reason for the accusative is even more obvious and 
closer than in John iv. 52, though similar in principle. It 

depends on the yvoSr just before : oi fxij yi/aJs iroiav wpav r}$o> €7ri crt. 

If the construction were filled up, it would be rrjv wpav ttoux wfx/.. 
As far as grammar is concerned therefore, it was open to omit 
either the accusative or the dative, as both would be cumbrous 
and uncalled fn'. So in JNTatt. xxiv. 42 we have ovk otSart ttoi^ 


wpa, in our passage we have yvwy iroiav wpav. But to infer from 
this that, where no such reason occurs for a compendious mixed 
construction, the accusative can be used for a point of time or 
the dative for duration, or that the radical difference does not 
always really abide underneath such an ellipse, is contrary to 
every just thought of language.* We are not at liberty to reason 
from these peculiar instances to others wholly different; it is 
as illogical as can be. 

I have in my lectures shewn tlie importance of the true force 
of the accusative in Eev. xvii. 12. Like " at," it supposes the 
same starting-point for the beast and the ten horns; but it adds 
the other, and this the main and intended, information that they 
receive authority as kings for one hour with the beast : not the 
Roman empire as once without the kings, nor the kings as 
afterwards without the empire, but both together, the revived 

* Such has alwaj's been my conviction, as any one can see in the earliest edition. 
But I thought it might be more satisfactory to others, perhaps to Mr. E., if I 
submitted the point of grammar to the learned author of the latest and most 
elaborate work of the kind which has emanated from Oxford. The following is 
the reply: — "I have no doubt but that in the two passages, John iv. 52, Rev, 
iii. 3, the accusative depends upon the verb. In the latter the full construction 
would be noia ijv &pa iv y, or more briefly and simply uifiav kv y (or 7) alone) 
K.T.X. ; and the relative is attracted to the accusative and prefixed to it, just 
like ov TpoTTov, ov xpovov, &c. In the former (John iv. 53) this full construc- 
tion does occur, the attraction being prevented by the insertion of sv before the 
relative. In Acts x. 3, the accusative is used, just as it would be with a Trspl for 
an indefinite and general notion of time ; and I have no doubt but that the 
writer followed the analogy of ntpi, though he chose to express the notion by 
wati [that is, even according to the common text, without Tripi]. Moreover, 
where time is indefinitely expressed, it is in reality a space of time and not a 
point, and its construction would follow the analogy of the expression for a 
space of time (accusative) rather than that of the expression for a point of 
time (dative). "When you say, 'about three o'clock,' there is no definite point 
presented to the mind, but a space extending (say) from ten minutes before to 
ten minutes after. This seems to be the philosophy of the accusative after nspi 
in such expressions. To my mind then neither of the three passages justify 
the taking fiiav w/^av (Rev. xvii. 12) as a point of time. I am happy to say 
that I have no theological or mystical bias one way or the other; I really do 
not know which of the various Apocalyptical parties I am favouring when I 
say that to my mind, looking at it grammatically, the words can only mean ' one 
and the same space of time with the beast,' not ' one and the same point of time.' 
My answer would have been sent sooner, had I not been from home, so that the 
letter was some time in reaching me. I am, dear sir, yours faithfully, W. E. 


empire in its place, the kings in theirs, enduring for the same 
space till they all perish together at the appearing of Jesus. 

3. It is the question of the seven thunders ; but inasmuch as 
Mr. E. adds nothing, we can dismiss it without farther notice. 

4. Here, as Mr. E. admits that the rendering of Rev. xi. 9 in 
his former editions was unsatisfactory, I am happy to say little. 
It seems to me plain, however, from the context, that the sense 
is not merely that their testimony was perfected but finished 
when the beast slays them. 

In 5 and 6 we have the questions whether the vaos includes 
the court sometimes, and whether toads and frogs are inter- 
changeable, both of which Mr. E. answers affirmatively, which 
I doubt. 

His 7 calls for a fuller notice. "At p. 246 Mr. K. insists on the 
right translation of cveaTr^Kcv in 2 Thess. ii. 2 being 'is present;' 
not as in our English authorized version, and as in the Hm^ae, 
'is at hand.' At p. 92 of my vol. iii., in this edition, my readers 
will find the point more fully argued out than before ; and the 
latter rendering of the word, I may unhesitatingly say, on the 
grounds of Greek criticism, fully justified. Let me only here 
ask Mr. K. the question how he supposes the Thessalonian 
Christians could have believed that the day of the Lord was 
then actually present, when putting together the two facts — first, 
that they knew from St. Paul's former epistles that the primary 
event of the day of the Lord would be the gathering of Christ's 
saints, both the dead and the living, to meet Christ in the air ; 
secondly, that neither themselves nor even St. Paul had thus far 
been made the subjects of that promised blessed rapture ? Will 
Mr. K. be agitated by the idea of the day of Christ having begun, 
so long as he is conscious that neither on himself nor on any 
of his most honoured Christian friends has any change taken 

The reader will find in the text and note, pp. 299-304, a tolerably 
complete refutation of what I judge to be mistaken in Mr. E.'s 
argument. He starts with the common error* of confounding 

• The want of light that prevails among commentators in general on tlio 
subject of propliecy affects their criticism seriously. Thus assuming, as they 
almost all do with excessive vagueness, that the coming of the Lord to gather 


the presence of the Lord to gather His saints with the day of 
the Lord to execute judgment on His enemies. This necessarily 
vitiates all that follows, as it misses wholly the force and even 
sense of the apostle's opening entreaty. For where would be the 
wisdom of entreating them for the sake of the same thing as 
that in respect of which he was going to disabuse their mind ? 
The apostle is guilty of no such slip or paralogism. He begs 
them by reason, or for the sake, of the coming of the Lord 
Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto Him that they be 
not soon shaken in mind [or literally "from their mind," though 

it is hardly English], as that the day of the Lord is 

present. This to my thinking is not only intelligible but plain 
and conclusive for the object in hand when we distinguish 
according to the lisfht given in 1 Thess. iv. and v., where these 
two things, the presence and the day of the Lord, are both 
discussed and distinguished as here. It was the false teachers 
who brought in confusion, and, instead of holding up the bright 
hope of Christ's coming to receive His own to Himself as the 
apostle did and does everywhere, sought to fill and alarm them 
with the terrors of the day of the Lord — that term of solemn 
judicial dealing which abounds in Old Testament prophecy. It 

His saints is the theme ahout which the apostle is about to give instruction in 
the verses which follow, many were influenced to translate wTrep here as nearly 
equivalent to Trspi, whereas this is hardly the case with verbs of prayer, beseeching, 
&c., like ipioTOLoj. Each has its own appropriated force, as any intelligent man 
can verify with a Greek Concordance. Had these writers seen that he entreats 
the saints on account of their own bright hope not to be alarmed by the false 
rumour that the day of the world's judgment was arrived, they would have 
avoided an error singularly gross and grave, not so much lexically, though 
certainly phraseologically (for tpojTau) virep means, "I beg, not concerning or 
with regard to, but on account of, by reason of, by or for the sake of"), but 
mainly because of the contextual fact that he urges the one as a motive of com- 
fort against the uneasiness inspired by the mistake as to the other, instead of 
treating of one and the same thing throughout. Dan. ii. 18; Kom. ix. 27; 
2 Cor. V. 12, vii. 4, -^aii. 23, ix. 3 ; Phil. i. 7; 2 Thess. i. 4, on which Mr. E. leans 
with Rosenmiiller, Macknight, Whitby, &c., are beside the mark ; they none of 
them follow a verb of entreaty. It is true that both vnkp and ncpi may often 
be translated "for," and virkp sometimes even "concerning;" but there are 
limits to such approximations of meaning as a scholar knows, instead of vaguely 
catching at a possible sense and applying it to suit a purpose. Words of entreaty, 
as far as I have noticed, exclude such a sense when joined with vnsp and require 
7rt|0('. It is absurd to identify them at random. 


is well known that it Las there an incipient application to such 
a frightful judgment as befel Babylon, Egypt, or other earthly 
states. In some such way the misleaders at Thessalonica seem 
to have interpreted the trouble through which, we can see from 
the first epistle, the saints there were then passing. They pre- 
tended, like many since their time, that the dread day was 
come, pretending to the Spirit's revelation of it, teaching it, and 
even led on by the enemy to allege a letter purporting to be 
from the apostle to that effect. If they so misimderstood the 
first epistle, as Jerome throws out and Mr. E, doubts not, it is 
certainly not the meaning of St' iirLo-ToXrjs ws 8t rjixCiv. I know what 
Paley says ; but, j5ace tanti viri, the apostle here means a sup- 
posititious letter falsely bearing his name, not his own epistle : 
yet this is the only basis they have for the thought. 

Mr. E. contends (ii. 92) for "partly" some forged words or 
letter ascribed to St. Paul, and "partly too" misconstruction of 
words which he had really written in his first epistle about 
Christ's coming again to gather to Himself His saints both 
quick and dead. But this is utterly baseless. There is but one 
clause for the inference, and the Greek phrase cannot possibly 
mean both. It is only laxity of mind or negligence which 
could seriously think of extracting partly the one thing and 
partly the other from words wliich can bear but one unequivocal 
meaning. Had the apostle intended his own epistle, he would 
have so expressed it. He might have said (as he does later in 
this very chapter, where such is his intention) St' eTrto-roX^s rjfxuiv, 
or rather, as he would in that case have referred to his previously 
existing letter, Sta t^j tTrtorroA^s, with or without t7/awv. But to 
convey such an idea, he could not have Avritten as he does 
St* iTTUTToXrjs u)s St' rjfjiwv, which can only signify a letter falsely 
inofessing to come through the apostle and his companions. 

Hence says Theodoret, /x^/re et Trpoo-TroioivTO XPV^H-^^fi^v koI 7rpo<f>rj- 
revttv; tovto yap Aeyci, M^re Sia Trvev/xaTOs' fxrjTt. d TrXao-dfj.€voL u)s i$ 
avTov ypat^ticrav tTnaToXrjv irpocjiepouv, pnqn (I dypd<f)(Ds avTW elprjK^vaL 

keyouv. (Opera, iii. 532, ed. Schulze.)* If they claimed the 

* I understand Chrysostom to bo of the same mind (Opera, iv. 231, 232, ed. 
Savile) ; and the ablest of modern German expositors, as well as Ellicott and 


apostle's authority for their affirmation in writing or in word, it 
was spurious, as far as the apostle informs us and we there- 
fore have ground to believe ; not a question of misunderstanding 
either his oral teaching or his first epistle. Of this there can 
be no doubt for such as fairly judge the words with a competent 
knowledge of the Greek tongue, or pay due heed to any right 
translation of the words. For in no language whatever is Mr. 
E.'s inference well founded or defensible. 

I have already perhaps sufficiently anticipated the answer to 
Mr. E.'s questions without delaying to notice the mistake which 
treats the gathering of the saints as an event, primary or not, of 
the day of the Lord (which scripture never does) ; but I reply 
that, though the Thessalonians had been set right as to the dead 
saints by the first epistle, the second proves that they were 
liable to go astray as to the living saints, and needed therefore 
fresh instruction. They already knew the fact, that the Lord 
would come to translate the saints, deceased or alive, and that 
His day is to fall with swift destruction on the world ; but the 
mutual relation of these two things they clearly did not know, 
and hence were open to those who pretended that the day was 
arrived with its dangers and troubles before the presence of the 
Lord to gather them home on high. The heresiarchs at Tlies- 
salonica probably taught a quasi -spiritual day of the Lord, as 
others went so far later as to teach similarly that the resurrec- 
tion had taken place already. There is not the least force 
therefore in what Mr. E. urges, particularly as 1 Thess. does not 
unfold the relative order of the two events, the presence and 
the day of the Lord, in such a way as to preclude the false 
rumour which is refuted in 2 Thess. We know now that such 
a notion must be unfounded; but how this could have been 
known before the second epistle was written is, I believe, beyond 
Mr. E.'s power to prove. 

The reader has before him the substance of Mr. E.'s critique 
on my criticism. He has left many remarks without notice, in 
which I consider him wrong : how far he has defended himself 
to purpose in those he selected for a reply, it is for others to 
judge rather than for me to say more. It must be plain what 
my opinion is. Were it the object to give a complete review of 


the Horae Apocalypticae, faults and defects especially in the 
intelligent criticism of the text could be enormously increased 
from the first chapter to tlie last. From the first I have ever 
felt that this was one of the chief drawbacks ; and a singular 
sight it is to me that, with a great deal of interesting history and 
ingenious applications of antiquities, such a book should give 
continual evidence of the want of an average amount and ex- 
actitude of knowledge in what ought to be the groundwork — 
the best readings and their evidence. I also think that the 
version preferred is too often vulnerable. The grand deside- 
ratum of all however is of another sort : I need not rehearse it 
here, having often pressed it in the lectures and the notes. 
There is an absence throughout of truth as to the heavenly 
relations of Christ and the church ; and hence failure in dis- 
criminating between the proper Christian hope and prophecy. 
This in such a book must needs be ruinous if true, as I firmly 
believe it to be. Of course it is to me matter of regret that 
Mr. E. should say or think that my criticisms on his book were 
wanting in fairness and candour ; but the reader will have 
perceived that the reason was in part or wholly due to the fact 
that he has not even understood many erroi's already pointed 
out. I have always considered the H. A. peculiarly defective in 
this, tliat the author did not first diligently ascertain, according 
to his best judgment or tliat of the ablest critical inquirers, the 
true text, and then seek to expound it. I can honestly say that 
such lias been my own course ; whereas his book constantly 
gives the impression of one who up to its fiftli edition is not 
yet in possession of the full grounds for a sound judgment, of a 
mind either unused or not adapted to the resolution of such 
questions, and consequently choosing, as his system seemed to 
require, such readings as suited, not those which command the 
acceptance of the most competent judges on the broadest basis. 
I believe I could make good this opinion of Mr. E.'s book 
throughout every chapter, if it were called for ; and the attentive 
reader of my lectures will have seen many more instances than 
the author has sought to defend. But I will take as an example 
the first and last chapters, with one in the middle of the book, 
which Mr. E. professes to give as corrected by critical authority. 


(1.) Chap. i. 2 presents an instance of extreme carelessness. 
How could any one, unless barely reprinting the received text or 
the Authorised Version, intelligently keep tc in the Greek text 
or the last " and" in English ? The best MSS. and versions are 
unanimous ; and so are all careful editors. The erroneous addi- 
tion falsifies the sense ; for it makes of John's visions a third 
division of his testimony, instead of representing them as quali- 
fying the word of God and the testimony of Jesus which he 
testified. (2.) His neglect of the present form of the participle 
Tw dyairSiVTi is a glaring fault in verse 5 ; but I have dwelt so 
much on its force in its proper place in the following pages, that 
I need say no more. The external authority is overwhelming in 
its favour and against the vulgar aorist which Mr. E. continues 
without remark. (3.) The KaC with dSeXc^o'y in verse 9 is contrary 
to the best authorities, and even to Erasmus' Cod. Eeuchlini, 
though he (not the Complut.) inserted it in his text. It is a 
manifest clog to the sense. Tn the same verse should be a still 
more needed restoration of the right reading by striking out iv ttj, 
" in the," before kingdom, which mars the sense. I say nothing 
of two disputed questions in the same verse ; but Mr. E. is as 
silent about the two certain and necessary changes as he is 
about the points which may be considered still sub judice. (4.) 
Mr. E. properly omits the ill-attested clauses in verse 11, but 
does not bring out the distinctive force of cXaXei as supplanting 
the common eXaXqae in verse 12. (5.) In verse 14 he gives the 
Authorised Version where it differs from the received text as 
much as from that approved by all judicious critics and required 
by the best witnesses. It should be " white as white wool, as 
snow," (6.) Verses 17, 18, he fails to represent according to any 
good text. It should be, " I am the first and the last, and the 
living one [or "he that liveth"] ; and I M'as [or became] dead," 
&c. (7.) He omits the beautiful and emphatic ow of the best 
authorities in verse 19: "Write therefore," &c. Minor points 
are omitted ; but such errors as these are found too commonly 
to allow the claim of the H. A. to take rank as a critical work 
up to the fair requirements of earnest and intelligent students 
in our days. The favourable opinion of an English judge or of 
an Edinburgh reviewer will not affect the judgment of any com- 


competent to pronounce on questions in which one could not 
fairly expect such persons to be at home. The first requisite in 
a comment surely is that it be founded on a correct text. Is it 
so with the H. A.? I believe it is not. 

Let us now review the last chapter similarly. (1.) In the 
first verse Mr. E. gives, without the least warrant, "the" river of 
the water of life. It should be of course " a river of water of 
life." All agree in omitting the KaOapov of the received text. (2.) 
In verse 3 there is a needless departure from the regular sense 
of the Kat. On the disputed reading in verse 5 I say nothing ; 
but (3.) verse 8 is as loosely given in the Horae as the Authorised 
Version. For surely it must be, " And I John am [or was] he 
that heard and saw these things ;" and in this order, spite of N 
and some cursives. (4.) In verse 12 the true reading I believe 
to be ecTTtv "is" as in n, A, and two cursives in the Vatican. 
Still, as the Eescript of Paris and the Porphyrian uncial are 
here deficient and the Basilian Vatican with the other cursives 
opposed, I would say no more than that an exact commentator 
ought to have noticed a good reading, which is far more energetic 
than the common one, even if he adhered to the received text, 
lo-Ttti, " shall be." (5.) In verse 13 I suppose there can be no 
doubt Mr. E. is wrong in adhering to the order of the common 
text, contrary to the critics who follow the ancient MSS. (6.) 
In verse 14, though agreeing with Mr. E. in adopting 7rA.vvoi/Tcr 
T. (TToXas avTwv on the authority of N, A, 7, 38 against all other 
known manuscripts, I cannot accept his connecting this verse 
Avith chap. vii. 9, 13, 14; as if the one were the anticipation, 
the other the realization, but rather as a similar blessing pos- 
sessed by two distinct classes of saints. (7.) " For" (8c) in verse 

15 is absent from the best MSS. and editions. Its insertion in 
H. A. spoils the contrast intended. (8.) The readings in verse 

16 may be considered doubtful ; but there need be no hesitation 
in striking out Kai from the received text before o deXwv, which 
Mr. E. keeps in. Again, it is wrong to say as he does, " of the 
waters of life." " Of the fountain of the water of life" is all 
right in chap. xxi. 6 ; here it is simply " life's water," without a 
various reading. 

I will finally take a central portion (chap, xi.), with a view to 


a similar test. (1.) Mr. E. is far too reluctant in accepting the 
critical correction of the received text in verse 1 ; and the diffi- 
culty of construction is due to not seeing the Hebraism of the 
style. (Compare chaps, iv. 1 ; xiv. 6, 7 ; xix. 7.) The Sinaitic 
and Porphyrian uncials confirm the Alexandrian and upwards 
of thirty cursives, with most of the ancient versions, against 
the reading of the Basilian Vatican, and ten cursives, with the 
later Syriac and the Armenian ; which is indeed an evident 
gloss to get rid of the seemingly harsh phrase in the original 
text. The Sinaitic alone reads Xeyet for Aeywy ; but this is of no 
moment, especially in the Eevelation, where slips of the kind 
are more tlian usually common. (2.) On Mr. E.'s version of 
TeXeo-wo-t in the sense of perfected, to avoid its natural meaning, 
" completed," I will not here delay further than to express dissent. 
(3.) Surely "in that hour" is the right rendering of iv iKuvrj ry 
wpoy rather than " at that same time." It is a fair question as to 
yjKovaa or y]Kov(jav, the latter having decidedly the best ancient 
evidence in its favour, as well as the more modern copies from 
which the received text was drawn ; but the former has good 
authority, uncial and cursive, supported by most of the ancient 
versions, and the general analogy of the phrase in the book. 
(4.) KoX 6 epxo/Aevos is rejected by the Sinaitic, the Porp)hyrian, the 
Basilian Vatican (B 2066), as well as A and C, and the mass of 
cursives; also by the Complut. and even by Erasmus' Cod. 
Eeuchl., though he boldly inserted it (probably out of deference 
to the Vulgate, not knowing that its best copies, Aniiat. Fuld. 
Demidov. and Harl., reject the clause). .Mr. E. might have been 
therefore a little bolder, had he known the facts more fully. (5.) 
I have elsewhere discussed the question of 6 eV tw ovpav(^, so that 
I need say no more here. What Mr. E. remarks on it is incor- 
rect ; but I do not say that it is " the true reading." In 1860 I 
bracketed the article before iv as doubtful ; I should be disposed 
to do the same in 1871. 

This will serve as a sample of the H. A., examined at the 
beginning, middle and end, in order to test its critical accuracy 
as to the text, which is evidently the most fundamental of all 
questions for the commentator who aims at precision on a solid 



Eevelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to shew his 
servants things whicli must shortly come to pass ; and sending 
by his angel he signified it to his servant John; ^who testified the 
word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ — whatsoever 
things he saw. ^Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear 
the words of the prophecy and keep the things written in it; 
for the time is at hand. 

* John to the seven churches that are in Asia : Grace to you 
and peace from him that is and that was and that is to come ; 
and from the seven Spirits who are before his throne; ^and from 
Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and 
the prince of the kings of the earth. To him that loveth us and 
washed us from our sins in his blood, ^and he made us a king- 
dom, priests to his God and Father : to him he the glory and the 
might unto the ages of the ages. Amen. 

''Behold, he cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see 
him, and those which pierced him ; and all the tribes of the earth 
shall wail on account of him. Yea, Amen. *I am the Alpha 
and the Omega, saith the Lord God, that is and that was and 
that is to come, the Almighty. 

^I, John, your brother and joint -partaker in tribulation and 
the kingdom and patience in Christ [Jesus], was in the isle that 
is called Patmos, because of the word of God and [because of] 
the testimony of Jesus [Christ]. ^°I was in the Spirit on the 
Lord's day, and heard behind me a loud voice as of a trumpet, 
" saying, What thou seest write in a book, and send to the seven 
churches ; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, 
and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and 


unto Laodicea. '''And I turned to see the voice which was 
speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden 
lamp -stands, '^and in the midst of the [seven] lamp-stands one 
like the Son of man, clad in a garment down to the foot, and girt 
about at the paps with a golden girdle : '4iis head and his hairs 
white as white wool, as snow ; and his eyes as a flame of fire ; 
"and his feet like fine brass, as glowing in a furnace ; and his 
voice as a voice of many waters : '^and he had in his right hand 
seven stars ; and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged 
sword : and his countenance as the sun shiueth in its strength. 
"And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead : and he laid 
his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the 
last, ^*'and the living one : and I was dead, and, behold, I am 
alive unto the ages of the ages ; and I have the keys of death 
and of hades. "Write therefore the things which thou sawest, 
and the things which are, and the things which are about to 
come to pass after these : '^"the mystery of the seven stars which 
thou sawest on my right hand, and the seven golden lamp- 
stands; the seven stars are angels of the seven churches, and the 
seven lamp-stands are seven churches. 

II. To the angel of the cliurch that is in Ephesus write. These 
things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, 
that walketh in the midst of the seven golden lamp-stands : 'I 
know thy works and [thy] toil and thy patience, and that thou 
canst not bear evil men; and thou hast tried those that call 
themselves apostles and are not, and hast found them liars : 
"and hast patience, and hast borne for my name's sake, and art 
not wearied. '' But I have against thee that thou hast relaxed 
thy first love. '^Eemember therefore whence thou art fallen, and 
repent, and practise the first works ; but if not, I am coming to 
thee [quickly], and will remove thy lamp-stand out of its place, 
except thou repent. ^But this thou hast, that thou hatest the 
deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. 'He that hath an 
ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. To him 
that overcometh I will give him to eat of the tree of life, which 
is in the paradise of [my] God. 

"And to the angel of the church that is in Smyrna write. 


These things saith the first and the last, who was dead and lived : 
"I know [thy works and] thy tribulation and poverty (but thou 
art rich), and the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews 
and are not, but a synagogue of Satan. 'Tear not the things 
which thou art about to suffer: behold, the devil is about to 
cast of you into prison that ye may be tried, and ye shall have 
tribulation ten days : be thou faithful unto death, and I will 
give thee the crown of life. "He that hath an ear, let him hear 
what the Spirit saith to the churches. He that overcometh 
shall in no wise be hurt of the second death. 

^^And to the angel of the church that is in Pergamos write, 
These things saith he that hath the sharp two-edged sword: ^^I 
know [thy works, and] where thou dwellest, where the throne 
of Satan is ; and thou boldest fast my name and hast not denied 
my faith, even in those days wherein was Antipas, my faithful 
witness who was killed among you, where Satan dwelleth. '*But 
I have a few things against thee, [because] thou hast there some 
that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a 
stumbling-block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed, 
to idols and to commit fornication. '"So hast thou also some that 
liold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes in like manner. '"Eepent 
therefore ; but if not, I am coming to thee quickly, and will 
fight with them with the sword of my mouth. "He that hath 
an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. To 
him that overcometh, I will give him of the hidden manna, and 
will give him a white stone, and upon the stone a new name 
written, which no one knoweth save he that receiveth it. 

'*And to the angel of the church that is in Thyatira write, 
These things saith the Son of God, that hath his eyes as a flame 
of fire, and his feet are like fine brass : "I know thy works and 
love and faith and service, and thy patience, and thy last w^orks 
more than the first. -"But I have against thee that thou lettest 
alone the woman Jezebel that calleth herself a prophetess ; and 
she teacheth and deceiveth my servants to commit fornication 
and to eat things sacrificed to idols. ^'And I gave her space to 
repent, and she willeth not to repent of her fornication. 
'^^ Behold, I cast her into a bed, and those that commit fornication 
with her into great tribulation, except they repent of her works. 

c 2 


'^And I will kill her children with death ; and all the churches 
shall know that I am he that searcheth reins and hearts ; and I 
will give you each according to your works. ''^But to you I say, 
the rest that are iu Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine 
which have not known the depths of Satan (as they say) : I put 
upon you no other burden : '* but that which ye have hold fast 
till I shall come. ^®And he that overcometh and he that keepeth 
my works until the end, I will give him authority over the 
nations; '^''and he shall rule them with an iron rod, — as the 
vessels of a potter are broken to shivers : as I also received of 
my Father. *®And I will give him the morning star. ^^He that 
hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. 

III. And to the angel of tlie church that is in Sardis write, 
These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God and 
the seven stars : I know thy works, that thou liast a name that 
thou livest, and art dead, 

"Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain which 
were about to die : for I have not found thy works complete 
before my God. ^Remember therefore how thou liast received 
and heard ; and keep it, and repent. If therefore thou watch 
not, I will come [upon thee] as a thief, and thou shalt in no 
wise know what hour I will come upon thee. ''But thou hast a 
few names in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and 
they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. ^He 
that overcometh, he shall be clothed in white garments ; and I 
will in no wise blot out his name from the book of life, and I 
will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 
'He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the 

■"■And to the angel of the cliurch that is in Philadelphia write, 
These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that 
hath the key of David, he that openeth and no one shall shut, 
and that shutteth and no one shall open : ®I know thy works. 
Behold, I have set before thee an open door which no one can 
shut: for tliou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and 
hast not denied my name. "Behold, I give of the synagogue of 
Satan those that say they are Jews and are not but lie : behold, 


I will make them to come and do homage before thy feet, and 
know that I have loved thee. ^"Because thou hast kept the 
word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of 
trial that is about to come on all the habitable world, to try 
those that dwell on the earth. "I am coming quickly: hold 
fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown. ^'^He 
that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my 
God, and he shall never go out more : and I will write upon 
him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, 
the new Jerusalem, that cometh down out of the heaven from 
my God, and my new name. "He that hath an ear, let him 
hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. 

'^And to the angel of the church that is in Laodicea write, 
These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the 
beginning of the creation of God : ^^I know thy works, that 
thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. 
^''So, because thou art lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am 
about to spue thee out of my mouth. "Because thou sayest, I 
am rich and am become rich and have need of nothing ; and 
knowest not that thou art the wretched and the pitiable and poor 
and blind and naked; "I counsel thee to buy of me gold purified 
by fire that thou mayest wax rich, and white garments that thou 
mayest be clothed and the shame of thy nakedness may not be 
manifested ; and eye-salve to anoint thine eyes that thou mayest 
see. ^®I, as many as I love, rebuke and chasten: be zealous 
therefore and repent. *° Behold, I stand at the door and knock : 
if any one hear my voice, and open the door, I will [both] come 
in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. "^^He that 
overcometh, I will give him to sit down with me in my throne, 
as I also overcame and sat down with my Father in his throne. 
^"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the 

IV. After these things I saw, and, behold, a door opened in 
the heaven ; and the first voice which I heard as of a trumpet 
talking with me said. Come up hither, and I will shew thee the 
things which must come to pass after these. ^[And] imme- 
diately I was in the Spirit ; and, behold, a throne was set in the 


heaven, and upon the throne one sitting: ^and he that sat in 
appearance like a jasper stone and a sardius : and a rainbow 
round about the throne in appearance like an emerald. *And 
round about the throne were twenty- four thrones : and upon 
the twenty- four thrones / scm elders sitting clothed in white 
garments, and upon their heads golden crowns. ''And out of 
the throne proceeded lightnings and voices and thunders ; and 
seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the 
seven Spirits of God ; ^and before the throne as a sea of glass 
like crystal ; and in the midst of the throne, and around the 
throne, four living creatures full of eyes before and behind : 
'and the first living creature like a lion, and the second living 
creature like a calf, and the third living creature had the face 
as of a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. 
^And the four living creatures, having each of them six wings, 
round about and within are full of eyes ; and they have no 
rest day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the 
Almighty that was and that is and that is to come. "And when 
the living creatures shall give glory and honour and thanks to 
him that sitteth on the throne unto the ages of the ages, "the 
twenty- four elders shall fall down before him that sitteth on 
the throne, and shall worship him that liveth unto the ages of 
the ages, and shall cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 
"Thou art worthy, Lord [and our God], to receive the glory 
and the honour and the power : for thou createdest all things, 
and because of thy will they were and were created. 

V. And I saw upon the right hand of him that sat on the 
throne a book written within and on the back, sealed up with 
seven seals. ''And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a 
loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book and to loose the 
seals thereof ? *And no one in the heaven nor on the eartli nor 
under the earth was able to open the book neither to look 
thereon. *And I wept much, because no one was able to open 
the book neither to look thereon. *And one of the elders saith 
to me. Weep not : behold, the lion hath overcome that is of the 
tribe of Judah, the root of David, that opcneth the book and 
the seven seals thereof *'And I saw in the midst of the throne 


and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, 
a Lamb standing as slain, having seven horns and seven eyes 
which are the [seven] Spirits of God sent forth into all the 
earth. ''And he came and took [the book] out of the right hand 
of him that sat upon the throne. ®And when he took the book, 
the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down 
before the Lamb, having each a harp and golden bowls full of 
incense, which is the prayers of the saints. ^And they sing a 
new song, saying. Thou art worthy to take the book and to open 
the seals thereof : for thou wast slain and hast bought [us] to 
God by thy blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and 
nation; "and hast made them to our God kings and priests; and 
they shall reign over the earth. "And I saw, and I heard the 
voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures 
and the elders : and the number of them was myriads of myriads 
and thousands of thousands, ^'^ saying with a loud voice, Worthy 
is the Lamb that is slain to receive the power and riches and 
wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing. ^^And 
every creature which is in the heaven and on the earth and 
under the earth and [such as are] on the sea and all things in 
them heard I saying. To him that sitteth on the throne and to 
the Lamb he the blessing and the honour and the glory and the 
might unto the ages of the ages. "And the four living creatures 
said. Amen : and the elders fell down and worshipped. 

VI. And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, 
and I heard one of the four living creatures saying, as a voice of 
thunder. Come. '^And I saw, and, behold, a white horse, and he 
that sat upon him having a bow ; and there was given him a 
crown : and he came out conquering and that he might con- 

^And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second 
living creature saying, Come. ^And there came out another 
horse that was red : and to him that sat upon him it was given 
him to take peace from the earth, and that they should slay one 
another ; and there was given him a great sword. 

^And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living 
creature saying. Come. And I saw, and, behold, a black horse, 


and he that sat upon him had a balance in his hand. *Aud I 
heard [as] a voice in the midst of the four living creatures say- 
ing, A choenix of wheat for a denarius, and three choenixes of 
barley for a denarius ; and the oil and the wine thou must not 

'And when he opened the fourth seal, I heard the fourth 
living creature's voice saying, Come, ®And I saw, and, behold, 
a pale horse, and his name that sat on him luas death, and hades 
followed with him ; and there was given him authority over the 
fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword and with hunger and 
with death and by the beasts of the earth. 

®And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar 
the souls of those slain because of the w^ord of God and 
because of the testimony which they held. "And they cried 
with a loud voice, saying. How long, Master, the holy and 
true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on those that 
dwell on the earth ? "And there was given them [each] a 
white robe ; and it was said to them that they should rest yet 
for a [little] space, until their fellow-servants also and their 
brethren should be completed that were to be killed even as 

'^And I saw when he opened the sixth seal, and there was a 
great earthquake ; and the sun became black as sackcloth of 
hair, and the whole moon became as blood ; "and the stars of 
the heaven fell unto the earth, as a fig tree shaken by a great 
wind easteth its untimely figs. "And the heaven departed as a 
scroll rolled up ; and every mountain and island were moved 
out of their places. '*And the kings of the earth and the great 
men and the chiliarchs and the rich and the mighty and every 
bondman and freeman hid themselves in the caves and in the 
rocks of the mountains ; '*and they say to the mountains and 
rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth 
on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb : "for the great 
day of his wrath is come ; and who is able to stand ? 

VII. [And] after this I saw four angels standing upon tlie 
four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, 
that no wind should blow on the earth nor on the sea nor upon 


auy tree. *And I saw another angel rising up from the east, 
having the seal of the living God; and he cried with a loud 
voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth 
and the sea, 'saying. Hurt not the earth nor the sea nor the 
trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God on their fore- 
heads.* And I heard the number of the sealed — a hundred and 
forty-four thousand sealed out of every tribe of the sons of 
Israel; ^out of the tribe of Juda twelve thousand sealed; out 
of the tribe of Eeuben twelve thousand; out of the tribe of Gad 
twelve thousand; "^out of the tribe of Aser twelve thousand ; 
out of the tribe of Nepthalim twelve thousand ; out of the tribe 
of Manasses twelve thousand; ^out of the tribe of Simeon twelve 
thousand ; out of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand ; out of the 
tribe of Issachar twelve thousand ; ^out of the tribe of Zabulon 
twelve thousand ; out of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand ; 
out of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand sealed. 

^After these things I saw, and, behold, a great multitude, 
which no one could number, out of every nation and tribes and 
peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the 
Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands ; 
^°and they cry with a loud voice, saying. The salvation to our 
God that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb. '^And all the 
angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four 
living creatures, and they fell before the throne upon their faces, 
and worshipped God, '* saying, Amen : The blessing and the 
glory and the wisdom and the thanksgiving and the honour 
and the power and the strength to our God unto the ages of 
the ages. [Amen.] ^^And one of the elders answered, saying to 
me, These that are clothed with white robes, who are they, and 
whence came they ? "And I said to him, My lord, thou knowest. 
And he said to me. These are they that come out of the great 
tribulation, and they washed their robes and made them white 
in the blood of the Lamb. ^* Therefore are they before the throne 
of God and serve him day and night in his temple ; and he that 
sitteth on the throne shall tabernacle over them. ^''They shall 
hunger no more neither thirst any more nor in any wise shall 
the sun fall upon them nor any heat. "For the Lamb that is 
in the midst of the throne shall tend them and shall lead them 


to fountains of waters of life, and God shall wipe away every 
tear from their eyes. 

VIII. And when he opened the seventh seal, there was silence 
in the heaven aljout half an hour. ''And I saw the seven angels 
who stand before God ; and there were given to them seven 
trumpets. "And another angel came and stood at the altar, 
having a golden censer ; and there was given him much incense, 
that he should give cjficacy to the prayers of all the saints upon 
the golden altar that was before the throne. ^And the smoke 
of the incense rose up with the prayers of the saints out of 
the angel's hand before God. *And the angel took the censer 
and filled it with the fire of the altar and cast it unto the 
earth ; and there were thunders and lightnings and voices and 
an earthquake. 

"And the seven angels that had the seven trumpets prepared 
themselves that they should sound. 'And the first sounded; and 
there was hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast 
unto the eartli ; and the third of the earth was burnt up, and 
the third of the trees was burnt up, and all the green grass was 
burnt up. 

^And the second angel sounded; and as a great mountain 
burning with fire was cast into the sea ; and the third of the 
sea became blood : ^and the third of the creatures that were in 
the sea that had life died; and the third of the ships were 

^"And the third angel sounded; and there fell out of the 
heaven a great star burning as a torch, and it fell upon the 
third of the rivers and upon the fountains of the waters. "And 
the name of the star is called Wormwood ; and the third of the 
waters became wormwood ; and many of the men died of the 
waters because they were made bitter. 

"And the fourth angel sounded ; and the third of the sun 
was smitten and the third of the moon and the third of the 
stars, that the third of them might be darkened, and the day 
should not shine for the third thereof and the night likewise. 

"And I saw, and I heard an eagle flying in mid-Iieaven, 
saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe to those that dwell on 


the earth from the rest of the voices of the trumpet of the three 
angels that are to sound ! 

IX. And the fifth angel sounded ; and I saw a star fallen out 
of the heaven unto the earth, and there was given him the key 
of the pit of the abyss. *And he opened the pit of the abyss, 
and smoke arose out of the pit as the smoke of a great furnace: 
and the sun was darkened and tlie air by the smoke of the pit. 
^And out of the smoke came forth locusts unto the earth, and 
there was given them power as the scorpions of the earth have 
power. *And it was said to them that they should not hurt the 
grass of the earth nor any green thing nor any tree, but the men 
which have not the seal of God on their foreheads. *And it 
was given them that they should not kill them, but that they 
should be tormented five months ; and their torment was as the 
torment of a scorpion when it striketh a man. 'And in those 
days shall men seek death and shall in no wise find it, and shall 
desire to die, and death fleeth from them. ''And the likenesses 
of the locusts tverc like horses prepared for war, and upon their 
heads as crowns like gold, and their faces as the faces of men. 
^And they had hair as liair of women, and their teeth were as 
of lions. ' ® And they had breastplates as iron breastplates, and 
the sound of their wings was as a sound of chariots of many 
horses running unto war. ^°And they have tails like scorpions, 
and stings ; and in their tails was their, power to hurt men five 
months. " They have a king over them, the angel of the abyss: 
his name in Hebrew is Abaddon ; and in the Greek he hatli the 
name Apollyon. 

^'^The first woe is past; behold, there come two woes more 
after these things. 

"And the sixth angel sounded ; and I heard a voice from the 
four horns of the golden altar that is before God, "saying to the 
sixth angel that had the trumpet, Loose the four angels that are 
bound at the great river Euphrates. '^And the four angels were 
loosed that were prepared for the hour and day and month and 
year, that they might slay the third of men. ''And the number 
of the armies of the cavalry vms two myriads of myriads : I 
heard the number of them. ''And thus I saw the horses in the 


vision, and those that sat on them, having breastplates of fire 
and of jacinth and of brimstone : and the heads of the horses 
were as heads of lions ; and out of their mouths proceeded fire 
and smoke and brimstone. '^ By these three plagues were killed 
the third of men, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone 
that proceeded out of their mouths. "For the power of the 
horses is in their mouth and in their tails : for their tails are 
like serpents and have heads ; and with them they do hurt. 

'^"And the rest of the men who were not killed by these 
plagues repented not of the works of their hands, that they 
should not worship demons, and idols of gold and of silver and 
of brass and of stone and of wood which can neither see nor 
hear nor walk ; " and they repented not of their murders nor of 
their sorceries nor of their fornication nor of their thefts. 

X. And I saw another strong angel coming down out of the 
heaven, clothed with a cloud ; and the rainbow on his head, and 
his face as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire : "and he had 
in his hand a little book open : and he set his right foot on the 
sea, and the left on the earth, "and cried with a loud voice, as a 
lion roareth : and when he cried, the seven thunders uttered their 
own voices. ''And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about 
to write : and I heard a voice from the heaven, saying. Seal 
the things which the seven thunders spoke, and write them not. 
*And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the 
earth lifted up his right hand unto the heaven, "and sware by 
him that liveth unto the ages of the ages, who created the 
heaven and the things therein, and the earth and the things 
therein, and the sea and the things therein, that there should be 
no more space, ''but in the days of the voice of the seventh 
angel, when he is to sound, the mystery of God should be 
finished, as he announced the glad tidings to his servants the 
prophets. ®And the voice which I heard from heaven was again 
speaking with me, and said. Go, take the book that is open in 
the hand of the angel that standeth on the sea and on the earth. 
"And I went away to the angel, saying to him that he should 
give me the little book. And he said to me. Take, and eat it up ; 
and it shall make thy belly bitter, but in thy mouth it shall be 


sweet as honey. ^°And I took the little book out of the hand of 
the angel, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as 
honey, and when I ate it, my belly was made bitter. "And they 
say to me, Thou must again prophesy of peoples and [of] 
nations and tongues and many kings. 

XI. And there was given me a reed like a rod, saying. Rise, 
and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those that 
worship therein. ^And the court that is without the temple 
cast out, and measure it not; for it was given to the nations: 
and the holy city shall they tread forty [and] two months. 
'And I will give efficacy to my two witnesses, and they shall 
prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed with 
sackcloth. * These are the two olive trees, and the two lamp- 
stands that stand before the Lord of the earth. "And if any 
one desire to hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and 
devoureth their enemies : and if any one desire to hurt them, 
thus must he be killed. ® These have authority to shut the heaven 
that no rain fall during the days of their prophecy ; and they 
have authority over the waters to turn them into blood, and to 
smite the earth with every plague as often as they will. ''And 
when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that 
riseth up out of the abyss shall make war with them and shall 
overcome them and shall kill them. ®And their dead body shall 
he on the street of the great city which is called spiritually 
Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. °And 
some of the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations see their 
dead body three days and a half, and do not suffer their dead 
bodies to be put into a sepulchre. '"And those that dwell on 
the earth rejoice over them and make merry and shall send 
gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those 
that dwell on the earth. "And after the three days and a half 
the spirit of life from God entered [into] them, and they stood 
upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those that beheld them. 
'-And I heard a loud voice out of the heaven saying to them, 
Come up hither. And they went up to the heaven in the cloud ; 
and their enemies beheld them. "And in that hour was there a 
great earthquake, and the tenth of the city fell, and there were 


slain in the earthquake seven thousand names of men : and the 
rest became afraid, and gave glory to the God of the heaven. 

'^The second woe is past; behold, the third woe cometh 

''And the seventh angel sounded ; and there were loud voices 
in the heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world hath become our 
Lord's and his Christ's, and he shall reign unto the ages of the 
ages. '^And the twenty-four elders, who sit before God upon 
their thrones, fell upon their faces and worshipped God, "saying, 
We give thee thanks, Lord God the Almighty, that art and 
that wast ; because thou hast taken thy great power and reigned. 
'*And the nations were wroth, and thy wrath is come, and the 
time of the dead to be judged, and to give the reward to thy 
servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear 
thy name, the little and the great; and to destroy those that 
destroy the earth. 

''And there was opened the temple of God [that is] in the 
heaven, and there was seen the ark of his covenant in his 
temple ; and there were lightnings and voices and thunders [and 
an earthquake] and great hail. 

XIL And a great sign was seen in the heaven : a woman 
clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her 
head a crown of twelve stars ; ^aud being with child she crieth, 
travailing and pained to bring forth. ^And there was seen 
another sign in the heaven ; and, behold, a great red dragon, 
having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his heads seven 
diadems. *And his tail draweth the third of the stars of the 
heaven, and cast them unto the earth : and the dragon stood before 
the woman that was about to bring forth, that when she brought 
forth he might devour her child. *And she brought forth a male 
son, who is to rule all the nations with an iron rod : and her 
child was caught up to God, and to his throne. "And the woman 
fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of 
God, that there they should nourish her a thousand two hundred 
and sixty days. ^And there was war in the heaven : Michael 
and his angels went to war with the dragon : and the dragon 
made war and liis augels ; "and he prevailed not, neither was 


their place found any more in the heaven. ®And the great dragon 
was cast out, the ancient serpent, that is called the Devil and 
Satan, that deceiveth the whole habitable world : he was cast 
into the earth, and his angels were cast with him. "And I heard 
a loud voice in the heaven, saying, Now is come the salvation 
and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority 
of his Christ : for the accuser of our brethren is cast out that 
accused them before our God day and night. "And they over- 
came him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the 
word of their testimony ; and they loved not their life unto 
death. ^'^ Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that tabernacle in 
them. Woe to the earth and to the sea ! for the devil is gone 
down unto you, having great fury, knowing that he hath a short 
time. ^^And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the 
earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the male 
child. "And there were given to the woman [the] two wings of 
the great eagle, that she should fly into the wilderness into her 
place, where she is nourished there a time and times and half a 
time from the serpent's face. ''And the serpent cast out of his 
mouth after the woman water as a river, that he might make her 
as carried away by a river. ^^And the earth helped the woman, 
and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the river 
which the dragon cast out of his mouth. '''And the dragon was 
wroth at the woman, and went away to make war with the rest 
of her seed that keep the commandments of God and have the 
testimony of Jesus. 

XIII. And I stood upon the sand of the sea. And I saw a 
beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, 
and on his horns ten diadems, and upon his heads names of 
blasphemy. ^And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, 
and his feet as a bear's, and his mouth as a lion's mouth ; and 
the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great autho- 
rity. ®And I saw one of his heads as slain unto death; and his 
deadly wound was healed : and the whole earth wondered after 
the beast. ^And they worshipped the dragon, because he gave 
the authority to the beast; and they worshipped the beast, 
saying, Who is like the beast? and who is able to make war 


with him ? 'And there was given him a mouth speaking great 
things and blasphemy; and there was given him authority to 
work forty- two months. ®And he opened his mouth unto blas- 
phemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle 
[and] those that tabernacle in the heaven. ''And it was given 
him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them ; and 
there was given him authority over every tribe and people and 
tongue and nation. ^And all that dwell on the earth shall 
worship him, of whom the name is not written, in the book of 
life of the Lamb that was slain, from the world's foundation. 
^If any one hath an ear, let him hear. "If any one is for 
captivity, into captivity he goeth ; if any one will kill with 
sword, with sword must he be killed. Here is the patience and 
the faith of the saints. 

"And I saw another beast rising up out of tlie earth ; and he 
had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. ^^And 
all the authority of the first beast he exerciseth before him, and 
causeth the earth and those that dwell therein to worship the 
first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. ^^And he doeth 
sreat siras, so that even fire he maketh come down out of the 
heaven unto the earth before men; "and he deceiveth those 
that dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given 
him to do before the beast, saying to them that dwell on the 
earth, that they should make an image to the beast, who hath 
the wound of the sword and lived. ^'And it was given him to 
give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the 
beast should both speak and cause [that] as many as would not 
worship the image of the beast should be killed. '"And he 
causeth all, the little and the great, and the rich and the poor, 
and the free and the bond, that they should give them a mark 
on their right hand, or upon their forehead, '^and that no one 
may be able to buy or sell, save he that hath the mark, the 
name of the beast, or the number of his name. ''Here is 
wisdom. Let him that hath understanding coimt the number of 
the beast: for it is a man's number; and his number is (jQQ). 

XIV. And I saw, and, behold, the Lamb standing upon the 
mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, 


having his name and his Father's name written on their fore- 
heads. ^And I heard a voice out of the heaven, as a voice of 
many waters and as a voice of loud thunder: and the voice 
wliich I heard was as of harpers harping with their harps ; ^and 
they sing [as] a new song before the throne, and before the four 
living creatures and the elders ; and no one could learn the song 
but the hundred forty and four thousand that were bought from 
the earth. * These are they who were not defiled with women: 
for they are virgins. These [are] they that follow the Lamb 
whithersoever he goeth. These were bought from among men, 
first-fruits to God and to the Lamb: "and in their mouth was 
found no falsehood ; [for] they are blameless. 

^And I saw [another] angel flying in mid -heaven, having the 
everlasting gospel to announce unto those that sit on the earth, 
and unto every nation and tribe and tongue and people, ''saying 
with a loud voice, Tear God, and give him glory; for the hour 
of his judgment is come : and worship him that made the 
heaven and the earth and [the] sea and fountains of waters. 

®And another, a second angel followed, saying, Fallen [fallen] 
is Babylon the great, who hath given all the nations to drink of 
the wine of the fury of her fornication. 

® And another, a third angel followed them, saying with a loud 
voice, If any one worshippeth the beast and his image, and 
receiveth a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, "even he 
shall drink of the wine of the indignation of God that is mixed 
undiluted in the cup of his wrath ; and he shall be tormented 
with fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the 
Lamb : "and the smoke of their torment riseth up unto the 
ages of the ages ; and they have no rest day and night, that 
worship the beast and his image, and if any one receiveth the 
mark of his name. ^'^Here is the patience of the saints, that 
keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. 

^' And I heard a voice out of the heaven, saying. Write, Blessed 
are the dead that die in the Lord henceforth. Yea, saith the 
Spirit, that they may rest from their toils ; for their works follow 
with them. 

"And I saw, and, behold, a white cloud ; and upon the cloud 
/ saiv one sitting like the Son of man, having upon his head a 



golden crown and in his hand a sharp sickle. "And another 
angel came forth out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to 
him that sat on the cloud, Send thy sickle and reap ; for the 
time to reap hath come : for the harvest of the earth is dried 
up. ^®And he that sat upon the cloud put his sickle upon the 
earth ; and the earth was reaped. 

"And another angel came forth out of the temple that is in 
the heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. "And another angel 
came forth out of the altar, having authority over the fire, and 
cried with a loud voice to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, 
Send thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of 
the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. ^^And the angel put 
his sickle unto the earth, and gathered the fruit of the vine of 
the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the indignation 
of God. ^°And the winepress was trodden without the city, 
and blood came forth out of the winepress unto the bridles of 
the horses, a thousand six hundred stadia off. 

XV. And I saw another sign in the heaven, great and won- 
derful : seven angels liaving the seven last plagues ; for in them 
was finished the indignation of God. 

"And I saw as a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those that 
won the victory over the beast and over the number of his 
name, standing upon the sea of glass, having harps of God. *And 
they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song 
of the Lamb, saying. Great and wonderful are thy works, O 
Lord God the Almighty ; just and true arc thy ways, thou King 
of the nations. *Who shall not fear, Lord, and glorify tliy 
name? for tliou only art holy: for all the nations shall come and 
worship before thee ; for thy righteousnesses were manifested. 

'And after these things I saw, and there was opened the 
temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in the heaven ; ^aud 
the seven angels that had the seven plagues came [out of the 
temple], clad in pure bright linen, and girt round about their 
breasts with golden girdles. ''And one of the four living 
creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls, full of the 
indignation of God that liveth unto the ages of the ages. *And 
the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, from 


liis power ; and no one was able to enter into the temple till 
the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. 

XVI. And I heard a loud voice [out of the temple] saying to 
the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the seven bowls 
of the indignation of God unto the earth. 

"And tlie first went away and poured out his bowl unto the 
earth ; and there came an evil and grievous sore upon the men 
that had the mark of the beast, and upon those that worshipped 
his imaije. 

°And the second poured out his bowl into the sea ; and it 
became blood as of a dead man; and every living soul died, 
those in the sea. 

^And the third poured out his bowl into the rivers and [into] 
the fountains of waters ; and they became blood. ^And I heard 
the angel of the waters say, Righteous art thou that art and 
that wast holy, because thou hast judged these things. ®For 
they shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou gavest 
them blood to drink : they are worthy. ''And I heard the altar 
say. Yea, Lord God the Almighty, true and righteous are thy 

*And the fourth poured out his bowl upon the sun ; and it 
was given him to scorch men with fire. "And the men were 
scorched with great scorching, and blasphemed the name of God 
that had authority over these plagues ; and they repented not 
to give him glory. 

"And the fifth poured out his bowl upon the throne of the 
beast ; and his kingdom became darkened ; and they gnawed 
their tongues for the pain, "and blasphemed the God of the 
heaven for their pains and for their sores, and repented not of 
their works. 

^"And the sixth poured out his bowl upon the great river, the 
Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way 
of the kings that are from the east* might be prepared. ^^And 
I saw out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of 
the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three 
unclean spirits as frogs. ^^For they are spirits of demons 

* Or "sun-rising," as in chaps, vii. 2; xxi. 13. 

d 2 


working signs, who go forth unto the kings of the whole habit- 
able world to gather them together unto the war of [that] great 
day of God the Almighty. ^^ (Behold, I come as a thief : blessed 
is he that watcheth, and keepeth his raiment, that he walk not 
naked, and they see not his shame.) ^'^And they* gathered them 
together unto the place that is called in Hebrew Harmagedon. 

"And the seventh poured out his bowl upon the air; and 
there came forth a loud voice from the temple [of the heaven], 
from the throne, saying, It is done. ^®And there were lightnings 
and voices and thunders, and there was a great earthquake, such 
as was not since a man was on the earth — such an earthquake, 
so great. '^And the great city became three parts, and the cities 
of the nations fell : and Babylon the great was remembered 
before God to give her the cup of the wine of the indignation 
of his wrath. ^°And every island fled away, and no mountains 
were found. ^^And great hail as of a talent's weight cometh 
down out of the heaven upon men : and men blasphemed God 
for the plague of the hail ; because the plague thereof is exceed- 
ing great. 

XVII. And there came one of the seven angels that had the 
seven bowls, and spoke with me, saying. Come hither; I will 
shew thee the judgment of the great harlot that sitteth on [the] 
many waters; ^with whom the kings of the earth committed 
fornication, and those that inhabit the earth were made drunk 
with the wine of her fornication. 'And he carried me away in 
the Spirit into a wilderness ; and I saw a woman sitting upon a 
scarlet beast full of [the] names of blasphemy, having seven 
heads and ten horns. ''And the woman was clothed with purple 
and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stone and pearls, 
having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the 
unclean things of her fornication, *and upon her forehead a 
name written : Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of 


saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints and with the 
blood of the witnesses of Jesus; and when I saw her, I wondered 
with great wonder. ^And the angel said to me, Wherefore didst 

* Or "he." 


thou wonder ? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and 
of the beast that beareth her, that hath the seven heads and 
the ten horns. ®The beast which thou sawest was and is not, 
and is to rise up out of the abyss and go into perdition : and 
they shall wonder that dwell on the earth, of whom the name 
is not written in the book of life from the world's foundation, 
when they behold the beast that he was and is not and shall be 
present. ^Here is the mind that hath wisdom. "The seven 
heads are seven mountains, where the woman sitteth on them ; 
and they are seven kings : five are fallen, one is, the other is 
not yet come ; and when he shall have come, he must continue 
a short space. "And the beast which was and is not, even he is 
an eighth and is of the seven and goeth into perdition. ■'^'And 
the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings which have not 
yet received a kingdom ; but they receive authority as kings 
one hour with the beast. ^' These have one mind and give their 
power and authority to the beast. "These shall make war with 
the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them (for he is Lord 
of lords and King of kings), and those that are with him, called 
and chosen and faithful. ^^And he saith to me, The waters 
which thou sawest, where the harlot sitteth, are peoples and 
multitudes and nations and tongues. ^"And the ten horns which 
thou sawest, and the beast, these shall hate the harlot and shall 
make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh and shall 
burn her with fire. "For God hath put into their hearts to 
accomplish, his mind, and to accomplish one mind, and to give 
their kingdom to the beast, till the words of God shall be 
finished. ^^And the woman whom thou sawest is the great city 
that hath kingship over the kings of the earth. 

XVIII. After these things I saw another angel coming down 
out of the heaven, having great authority; and the earth was 
illumined with his glory, ^And he cried with a strong voice, 
saying, Fallen [fallen] is Babylon the great, and is become a 
habitation of demons, and a haunt of every unclean spirit, and 
a haunt of every unclean and hated bird. Tor of the wine of 
the fury of her fornication all the nations drank, and the kings 
of the earth committed fornication with her, and the merchants 
of the earth became rich by the power of her luxury. *And I 


heard another voice out of the heaven, saying, Come out of her, 
my people, that ye have no fellowship with her sins, and that 
ye receive not of her plagues: ^for her sins have reached unto 
the heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. ® Render 
to her as she also rendered, and double [the] double according 
to her works : in the cup which she mixed mix to her double. 
''How much she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, so much 
torment and mourning give her. Because in her heart she saith, 
I sit a queen and am no widow and shall in no wise see mourn- 
ing; therefore in one day shall her plagues come, death and 
mourning and famine ; and she shall be utterly burnt with fire : 
for strong is the Lord God that judged her. ®Aud the kings of 
the earth that committed fornication and lived luxuriously with 
her shall weep and wail on account of her, when they see the 
smoke of her burning, ^"standing afar off because of the fear of 
her torment, saying, Woe, woe, the great city Bal)ylon, the 
strong city! for in one hour came thy judgment. "And the 
merchants of the earth weep and mourn on account of her ; for 
their lading no one buyeth any more — "lading of gold and of 
silver and of precious stone and of pearl and of fine linen and 
of purple and of silk and of scarlet; and all thyine wood and 
all furniture of ivory and all furniture of most precious wood, 
and of brass and of iron and of marble ; ^*aud cinnamon and 
amomum and incense and unguent and frankincense and wine 
and oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and of 
horses and of chariots and of bodies and souls of men. "And 
the fruits of the desire of thy soul have departed from thee, and 
all the sumptuous and the bright things have perished from 
thee, and never shall they find them any more. ^'The merchants 
of these things that became rich by her shall stand afar off 
because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, 
^"saying, Woe, woe, the great city, that was clothed with fine 
linen and purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious 
stone and pearls! "for in one hour were so great riches made 
desolate. And every pilot and every voyager and sailors and as 
many as trade by the sea stood afar off, ^''and cried, seeing the 
smoke of her burning, saying, What citi/ is like the great city ! 
"And they cast dust upon their beads, and cried, weeping and 


mourning, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, wherein all that had 
ships in the sea became rich by reason of her costliness ! for in 
one hour was she made desolate. ^"Eejoice over her, heaven, 
and ye saints, and ye apostles, and ye prophets : for God hath 
judged your judgment on her. ^'And a strong angel took up a 
stone as a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus 
with violence shall Babylon the. great city be cast down, and 
shall in no wise be found more. '^^And no voice of harpers and 
musicians and pipers and trumpeters shall be heard any more in 
thee; and no craftsman of any craft shall be found any more in 
thee ; and no sound of millstone shall be heard any more in 
thee ; ^^and no light of lamp shall shine any more in thee ; and 
no voice of bridegroom and of bride shall be heard any more in 
thee; for thy merchants were the great ones of the earth; for 
by thy sorcery were all the nations deceived. '"And in her the 
blood of prophets and of saints was found, and of all that were 
slain on the earth. 

XIX. After these things I heard as a loud voice of a great 
multitude in the heaven, saying, Alleluia! the salvation, the glory, 
and the power of our God : ^for true and righteous are his 
judgments; for he hath judged the great harlot who corrupted 
the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of 
his servants at her hand. ^And a second time they said, Alleluia ! 
and her smoke riseth up unto the ages of the ages. *And the 
twenty- four elders and the four living creatures fell down 
and worshipped God that sitteth on the throne, saying. Amen, 
Alleluia ! ®And a voice came forth out of the throne, saying. 
Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, the 
little and the great. ^And I heard as a voice of a great multi- 
tude, and as a voice of many waters, and as a voice of strong 
thunders, saying. Alleluia ! for the Lord [our] God the Almighty 
hath reigned. ''Let us be glad and rejoice and give the glory to 
him : for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath 
made herself ready. ®And to her it was granted that she should 
be clothed with fine linen bright [and] pure : for the fine linen 
is the righteousnesses of the saints. ^And he saith to me. Write : 
Blessed are those that are called unto the marriage supper of 


the Lamb. And he saith to me, These are the true words of 
God. ^°And I fell before his feet to worship him. And he saith 
to me, See thou do it not: I am fellow- servant of thee and of 
thy brethren that liave the testimony of Jesus: worship God. 
For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. 

"And I saw the heaven oj^ened, and Iteliold, a white horse ; 
and he that sat upon liini was called faithful and true, and in 
righteousness he doth judge a,nd make war. ^^His eyes were [as] 
a flame of fire, and upon liis head loere many diadems ; he had 
[names written and] a name written which no one knoweth but 
he himself; ^^and he was clothed with a garaient dyed with 
blood: and his name is called The Word of God. ^*And the 
armies that are in the heaven followed him upon white horses, 
clad in white pure fine linen. ^'''And out of his mouth proceeded 
a [two-edged] sharp sword, that with it he should smite the 
nations : and he shall rule them with an iron rod : and he 
treadeth the winepress of the wine of the indignation of the 
wrath of God the Almighty. ^''And he hath upon the garment 
and u[)on his thigh a name written, King of Kings and Lord of 
Lords. ^^And I saw an angol standing in the sun ; and he cried 
with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in mid-heaven, 
Come, gather yourselves together unto the great supper of God ; 
^^that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of chiliarchs, 
and the flesh of strong men, and the flesh of horses, and of 
those that sit on them, and the flesh of all, both free and bond, 
and both little and great. ^"And I saw the beast, and the kings 
of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war 
with him that sat on the horse and with his army. ^"^And the 
beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought 
the signs before him, with which he deceived those that had 
received the mark of the beast and those that worshipped his 
image : they two were cast alive into the lake of fire that burnetii 
with brimstone. ^^And the rest were slain with the sword of 
him that sat on the horse — the sword that came forth out of his 
mouth ; and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. 

XX. And I saw an angel coming down from the heaven, 
having the key of the abyss, and a great chain upon his hand. 
'•^And he laid hold on the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is 


the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, ^and cast 
hiiji into the abyss, and shut and sealed it over him, that he 
might deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were 
finished : after these must he be loosed a little space. 

^And I saw thrones, and they sat upon tliem, and judgment 
was given to them ; and the souls of those beheaded because of 
the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God ; and 
those who had not worshipped the beast nor his image and had 
not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand : 
and they lived and reigned with Christ [the] thousand years. 
■''[And] the rest of the dead lived not till the thousand years 
were finished. This is the first resurrection. ^Blessed and holy 
is he that hath part in the first resurrection : over these the 
second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God 
and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years. ''And 
when the thousand years shall have been finished, Satan shall 
be loosed out of his prison, ^and shall go out to deceive the 
nations in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to 
gather them togetlier unto the war : the number of whom is as 
the sand of the sea. ^And they went up upon the breadth of the 
earth, and encompassed the encampment of the saints and the 
beloved city : and there came down fire out of the heaven [from 
God] and devoured them. ^°And the devil that deceived them 
was cast also into the lake of fire and brimstone, where also the 
beast and the false prophet are; and they shall be tormented 
day and night unto the ages of the ages. 

"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, 
from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there 
was found no place for them. ^^And I saw the dead, the great 
and the little, standing before tlie throne, and books were 
opened ; and another book was opened, which is tlte hooh of life : 
and the dead were judged out of the things written in the books 
according to their works. ^^And the sea gave up the dead that 
were in it ; and death and hades gave up the dead that were in 
them ; and they were judged each according to their works. 
^*And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is 
the second death, the lake of fire. ^^And if any one was not found 
written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. 


XXI. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth ; for the 
first heaven and the first earth had passed away ; and the sea is 
no more. ^And the holy city, new Jerusalem, I saw coming 
down out of the heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned 
for her husband. ^Aiid I heard a loud voice out of the throne, 
saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall 
tabernacle with them, and they shall be his people, and God 
himself shall be with them, their God. *And [God] sliall wipe 
away every tear from their eyes ; and death shall be no more, 
and no mourning nor crying nor pain shall be any more: for 
the first things have passed away. ^And he that sat upon the 
throne said. Behold, I make all things new. And he saith [to 
me]. Write : for these words are faithful and true. ^And he said 
to me, They are done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the 
beginning and the end. To him that is athirst I will give of 
the fountain of the water of life freely. ''He that overcometh 
shall inherit these things ; and I will be God to him, and he 
shall be a son to me. ^But for the cowardly and faithless and 
abominable and murderers and fornicators and sorcerers and 
idolaters and all liars, their part sliall he in the lake that burneth 
with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. 

^And there came one of the seven angels tliat had the seven 
bowls full of the seven last plagues and talked with me, saying, 
Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. 
^°And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high 
mountain, and shewed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming 
down out of the heaven from God, having the glory of God. 
^^Its light was like a stone most precious, as a jasper stone 
clear as crystal; ^^it had a wall great and high ; it had twelve 
gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, 
which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel : 
^^on tlic east three gates, and on the north three gates, and on 
the south three gates, and on tlie west three gates. ^■*And the 
wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve 
names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. ^^And he that talked 
with me had a golden measuring rod to measure the city and 
the gates of it and the wall of it. ^*^And the city lieth quadran- 


gular, and the length of it is as much as the breadth ; and he 
measured the city with the reed — twelve thousand stadia : the 
length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. ^'''And 
he measured the wall of it, an hundred forty and four cubits, a 
man's measure which is of the angel. ^^And the building of its 
wall was jasper ; and the city pure gold like pure glass. ^^The 
foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every 
precious stone ; the first foundation jasper, the second sapphire, 
the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, ^^the fifth sardonyx, 
the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolyte, the eighth beryl, the 
ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprasus, the eleventh jacinth, the 
twelfth amethyst. ^^And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; 
each one of the gates severally was of one pearl : and the street 
of the city pure gold as transparent glass. ^^And I saw no 
temple in it : for the Lord God the Almighty is the temple of 
it, and the Lamb. ^^And the city has no need of the sun nor of 
the moon, that they should shine on it : for the glory of God 
illumined it, and the Lamb is the lamp of it. ^^And the nations 
shall walk by its light ; and the kings of the earth bring their 
glory unto it. ^^And the gates of it shall in no wise be shut by 
day : for there shall be no night there. ^^And they shall bring 
the glory and honour of the nations unto it. ^''And there shall 
in no wise enter into it any thing common, and one practising 
abomination and a lie ; but those that are written in the Lamb's 
book of life. 

XXII. And he shewed me a river of water of life bright as 
crystal proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb. ^In 
the midst of the street of it and of the river, on this side and 
on that side, was the tree of life producing twelve fruits, every 
month yielding its fruit ; and the leaves of the tree for healing 
of the nations. ^And there shall be no more curse : and the 
throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it ; and his servants 
shall serve him, *and shall see his face ; and his name shall be 
on their foreheads. ^And there shall be no night [there] and no 
need of lamp and sunlight ; for the Lord God will illumine 
them : and they shall reign unto the ages of the ages. 

''And he said to me. These words are faithful and true ; and 


the Lord God of the spirits of the prophets hath sent his angel 
to shew his servants the things which must come to pass shortly. 
^And, behold, I am coming quickly: blessed is he that keepeth 
the words of the prophecy of this book. **And I John was he 
that heard and saw these things. And when I heard and [when 
I] saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel that 
shewed me these things. ^And he saith to me, See thoit do it 
not: I am fellow- servant of thee and of thy brethren the pro- 
phets and of those that keep the words of this book : worship 
God. ^•'And he saith to me, Seal not the words of the prophecy 
of this book : [for] the time is at hand. ^^He that is unjust, let 
him do unjustly still : and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still : 
and he that is righteous, let liim practise righteousness still : and 
he that is holy, let him be sanctified still. ^^ Behold, I am coming 
quickly; and my reward with me to give each as his work is. 
^3 1 am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the begin- 
ning and the end. ^* Blessed are those that wash their robes, that 
they may have right to the tree of life and may enter in by the 
gates into the city. ^^ Without are tlie dogs and the sorcerers and 
the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters and every 
one that lovetli and practiseth a lie. ^*^I Jesus have sent mine 
angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the 
root and the offspring of David, the bright [and] the morning 
star. ^''And the Spirit and the bride say, Come ; and let him that 
heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come ; let him 
that willeth take life's water freely. ^^I testify to every one that 
heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any one add 
to them, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in 
this book : ^''and if any one shall take away from the words of 
the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from 
the tree of life and out of the holy city that are written in this 

2'' He that testifieth these things saith, Yea, I am coming 
quickly. Amen ! Come, Lord Jesus. 

2^ The grace of the Lord Jesus [Christ] he with all [the saints. 





Every Christian of spiritual intelligence must have felt more 
or less fully the peculiar character of the book on the study 
of which we now enter. It is a "revelation of Jesus Christ 
which God gave him." It is evident that the Lord Jesus is 
■viewed here, not in His place of intimacy as the only begotten 
Son in the bosom of the Father, but in one of comparative 
distance. It is His revelation, but, moreover, the revelation 
which God gave Him. Somewhat similar is the remarkable 
expression which has perplexed so many in the Gospel of ]\Iark 
(chap. xiii. 32), " But of that day and that hour knoweth no 
man : no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, 
but the Father." He is the servant Son of God all through that 
Gospel ; and it is the perfection of a servant not to know what 
his lord does — to know, if we may so say, only what he is told. 
Here Christ receives a revelation from God ; for, however 
exalted, it is the position He took as man which comes out con- 
spicuously in the Eevelation. And what makes this the more 
striking is that, of all the inspired writers of the New Testa- 
ment, none dwells with such fulness upon His supreme and 
divine glory as John in his Gospel. In the Revelation, on the 
other hand, it is the same Jolm who brings out with the greatest 
detail His human glory, but without hiding that He is God. 
In keeping with this, the Revelation is " to shew his servants 



things which must shortly come to pass." How very different is 
the tone of John xv. 15, " Henceforth I call you not servants;" 
aiid also of John xvi. speaking of tlie Sjnrit, " He shall glorify 
me, for He shall receive of mine and shall shew it unto you. 
All tilings that the Father hath are mine ; therefore said I that 
He shall take of mine and shall shew it unto you." So we see 
throngh the Gospel from first to last, that the design of the 
Spirit is to give the disciples the title and consciousness of their 
sonship with and through Jesus, the Son of God in the highest 
sense. Tlius in chapter i. 11, 12, " He came unto his own, and 
his own received him not. But as many as received him, to 
them gave he power to become the children of God." And 
again, after His death and resurrection, the Lord says, chap. xx. 
17, "Go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my 
Father and your Father; and to my God and your God." Of 
course they were servants also, and there is not a shade of in- 
congruity. Still the difference of the relationships is immense ; 
and the Kevelation clearly is addressed to the lower of these 
relations. The reason, I presume, is, partly because God is 
therein making known a certain course of earthly events with 
which the lower position is most in harmony (the higher one of 
sons being more suitable to communion with the Father and 
with His Son) ; and partly because God seems here to prepare 
the way for dealing with His people in the latter day, when 
their position as His servants will be more or less manifested, 
but not the enjoyment of nearness as sons — I allnde to the 
interval after the removal of the church. 

The next words greatly confirm this ; for the Lord " sent and 
signified it by his angel unto his servant John." Tiiat is, the 
prophetic communication is made, not directly, but through 
the intervention of an angel ; and John is no longer spoken of 
as " the disciple whom Jesus loved, which also leaned upon his 
breast at supper," but as " his servant," " who testified the word 
of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatever things he 
saw." It has to be remarked here, that the last " and" ought to 
disappear, which makes no small difference in the sense. For 
" whatever things he saw" must not be regarded as a third and 
additional division, but rather as explaining or limiting the 


word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. The visions 
of John compose " the word of God and the testimony of 
Jesus" here intended. How many have slighted them! Let 
them learn how they are characterised by the Lord here, and 
tremble lest their blind depreciation come into collision with 
Ilis sentence. It is the word of God who gives the revelation ; 
it is the testimony of Jesus (not to but of Jesus) who testified 
the Avord of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatever 
things he saw. (Compare chap. xxii. 8.) 

Very different indeed is the revelation of God here, and the 
testimony which Jesus bears in this book, from what we find in 
John's Gospel. The Word of God there is the Lord .lesus Him- 
self, who in the beginning was with God and was God ; the full 
and personal expression of God, and that not merely as the 
Creator of all things, but in perfect grace. " In him was life, 
and the life was the light of men." " And the Word was made 
flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory (the glory 
as of the only-begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." 
In the Eevelation, on the contrary, even when He is spoken of 
as the Word of God, it is as the expression of divine judgment, 
because the whole book is eminently judicial. "He was clothed 
with a vesture dipped in blood ; and his name is called the 
Word of God." (Eev. xix. 13.) So too in the Gospel the testi- 
mony that Jesus Christ renders is to the Father, as it is 
throughout the Father's joy to bear witness of the Son. Indeed 
the Son Himself, towards the close of His ministry, sums up 
the pith and character of the testimony there in these few 
words : "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." (John 
xiv. 9.) 

All this makes the distinctive features oi the Eevelation to 
stand out in broader contrast. For throughout the book the 
very name of the Father occurs but rarely, and even where it 
does, the object is in no way the revelation of His love as 
Father to His family. In Eev. i. 1, iii. 21, and xiv. 2, He is 
spoken of as such in relation to Jesus only. The grand subject 
is God manifested in His judgments, as well as the beneficent 
power of His kingdom here below at the appearing of the Lord 
Jesus, " King of kings and Lord of lords." Even when the 

B 2 


churches are in question, it is given about them to another, not 
to tlieuiselves directly. 

" Blessed is he that readeth, and the}- that hear the words of 
the prophecy, and keep the things therein written : for the time 
is at hand." What a serious mistake in the face of such words 
as these for Christians to think that this book or any part of it 
is unprofitable, and that it may be safely set aside either as too 
difficult to understand, or, if understood, as having no practical 
bearing upon the soul ! It is remarkable indeed with what 
special care the Lord has commended it, not only here at the 
commencement but at the close, where we read, " These sayings 
are faithful and true ; and the Lord God of the spirits of the 
prophets sent his angel to shew his servants the things which 
must shortly come to pass. Behold, I come quickly ; blessed is 
he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book." It 
would seem that the Lord's prescient eye anticipated in such 
warnings the neglect with which the Apocalypse would be 
treated by His servants, and that He was thus solemnly guard- 
ing them against it by commending the book emphatically to 
their study and use. It is a little remarkable, by the way, 
that a somewhat similar admonition occurs in the close of 
1 Thessalonians, which was the first of Paul's epistles, and the 
one which above all others developes the grand truth of the 
coming of the Lord. In Eev. i. 3 the Lord takes pains to 
encourage every possible class of people who might come in 
contact with the book. Not only the individual who reads is 
pi'onounced blessed, but those who hear its words and keep (or 
observe) what is written therein. And certain I am that the 
Lord does not fail to encourage His saints who count on His 
assured faithfulness and blessing. He has never turned aside 
from using it for good, and especially in times of danger, spite 
of all contenq)t or perversion. 

The objection to tlie study of prophecy arises from a root of 
unbelief, sometimes deeply hidden, which supposes all blessing 
to depend on the measure in which a subject bears immediately 
on one's self or one's circumstances. Thus Avlien some cry out. 
That is not essential, I would ask, Essential to what ? If they 
mean essential to salvation, we agree. But then on wliat a ground 


do such objectors stand ! The anxiety to examine only what 
they deem indispensable to salvation shews that they have no 
consciousness of salvation themselves, and that this need of 
their souls is the only thing they are alive to. Now all hold 
that not prophecy but the gospel should be put before the un- 
converted. The coming of Christ in glory, which is the centre 
of unfulfilled prophecy, ought to be terror to their hearts, instead 
of a mere question for interesting discussion. To the believer 
indeed His coming is "that blessed hope." We wait for the 
Son of God from heaven, and we await Him not only without 
anxiety but with joy, because we know Him to be "Jesus which 
delivered us from the wrath to come." But for any man, whf) 
has not peace by faith in Him dead and risen, to occupy his 
mind either with this, the church's hope, or with the events of 
which prophecy treats, is but a diversion of which the enemy 
can make fearful use, if it be not a proof of utter deadness of 
conscience as to his own condition before God, — though I am 
far from saying, that God may not make use of that truth to 
arouse it. On the other hand prophecy is essential to our due 
appreciation of Christ's glory and of the glory that is to be 
revealed. To slight prophecy therefore is to despise unwittingly 
that glory and the grace which has made it known to us. It is 
the plainest evidence of the selfishness of our hearts, which 
wants every word of God to be directly about ourselves. 

God takes for granted that His children love to hear whatever 
will exalt the Lord Jesus. The result too is striking and serious : 
where Christ is the object of our hearts, all is peace ; where our 
own happiness is the first thought, there is wont to be disap- 
pointment and uncertainty. 

Another form in which this egotism works, and must be 
watched against, even among those who do hear the words of 
this prophecy, is the assumption that its visions are about the 
church — that the seals, trumpets, and vials, for instance, are of 
chief value and interest, because they concern ourselves {i.e., the 
church) either in the past or in the future. But this is a funda- 
mental mistake, as we may gather from the very words of the 
verse before us. The divine ground alleged for the importance 
of taking heed to this book lies not in the time being come or 


our being in the circumstances described, but in their being 
near ; "for the time is at hand." How far it contemplates those 
on Christian or cliurch ground, when we see a wholly different 
state come in before this age closes, then in the millennium and 
finally in eternity, is a question for investigation as we proceed 
in the study of the book. But even from the opening it seems 
clearly as unfounded to assume from our possession of the book 
that we must be in the predicted circumstances, as to reason from 
God's confidential announcement to Abraham, that he neces- 
sarily in his own person was concerned in the doomed cities of 
the plain. The principle is erroneous, overlooks the grace in 
which the Christian stands, and ignores the fact that there are 
to be in tlie latter day servants of God in a different position 
from ours, and more immediately mixed up with its horrors, 
thougli warned and saved, as just Lot was in time to escape 
the worst. If nevertheless the book in the apostle's days could 
profit saints of God who were not personally concerned in the 
judgments, equally at least may it avail for us. The Lord grant 
that we may increasingly value the place in which He has set 
us, peacefully " knowing these things before." 

Ver. 4-6. " John to the seven churches which arc in Asia."* 
Even the three verses already looked at give us a certain measure 
of insight into the peculiar features of this book, which are 
obviously distinct from the other parts of the New Testament. 
God reverts a great deal to the principles on which He had 

* By Asia is meant not even Asia Minor, but that part of its western coast 
which constituted the Roman proconsular province. The kingdom of Pcrgamus 
had that title given to it, just as part of the Carthaginian territory was called 
the province of Libya or Africa. Some account for the absence of allusion to 
Colosse and lliorapolis by the circumstance that they were destroyed by an 
earthquake soon after St. Paul's epistle to the former. If Euscbius and Tacitus 
refer to the same fact (for their dates differ), it seems that Laodicea, though 
involved in the catastroplir, was rebuilt before the reign of Domitian. But 
adopting the earlier date of tlie lioman historian (a.u. 61), how can this consist 
with the usual reference of the Colossian epistle to a.d. 64 ? May I also 
express my surprise that the strange notion of Theodoret, that St. Paul founded 
the churches of Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis, should be held by any un- 
biassed p(;rsou? I am aware of Lardner's elaborate effort. But Col. ii., if 
rightly understood, includes the Colossians and Laodicoans among those wlm 
had not set.'n the apostle in the flesh. 


acted ill Old Testament times. One can see that the positive 
edification of the church is not the subject, nor the unfolding of 
(Jod's special dealings in niei-cy. We have here to do with His 
judgment of evil, whether in the churches or in the world. In 
perfect harmony with this, God introduces Himself to His 
people by a style and title that differs from the rest of the 
apostolic addresses. " Grace to you and peace from him that is, 
and that was, and that is to come." It is generally what answers 
in the New Testament to Jehovah in the Old. There is this 
peculiarity, that He is here revealed as first He that is in His 
absolute ever-present being, then He that was, and He that is to 
come. The " I am" takes precedence, but He was before, and is 
the coming One. God of old revealed Himself to Israel as the 
unchangeable One, " the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." 
But now He speaks in the language of the Gentiles, and by 
these words—" Him that is, and that was, and that is to come," 
translates as it were that name of Jehovah, never before so 
communicated to them. He is going to return to His ancient 
people Israel ; but before He does so, there must necessarily be 
a sweeping judgment upon the professing mass that calls itself 
by the name of the church. Thus, when God has set Christen- 
dom aside, He will bring in Israel again — no longer on the 
ground of law but of grace. The law executed death on sinful 
man, but the grace of God substituted the person of the Son of 
God, as in Heb. ii. 9 it is written, " that he by the grace of God 
should taste death for every man." But God, in the death of 
the Lord Jesus, also gave a stronger expression of His hatred of 
sin than in any other dealing. So in witness of, and as an 
answer to. His death does grace now flow out to the very worst. 
In that day Israel will know this for themselves ; but they will 
know better what Jehovah means. And of what mighty import 
it will prove to them that His personal name in the government 
of this world is the precious token given to them nationally, 
the title of relationship in which they have Him revealed as 
their God! This book then is the transition from a morally 
judged Christendom to " that day." 

Again, the style in which the Holy Ghost is here introduced 
is as strikingly characteristic of the book as what we have just 


traced ; and so too is the way in which the Lord Jesus Himself 
is spoken of after that. " Grace be to you and peace .... 
from the seven Spirits who are before his throne." Of course, 
the same Holy Ghost, known as the "One Spirit" in the Epistle 
of Paul to the Ephesians, is here mentioned as "the seven 
Spirits which are before his throne." He is spoken of as the 
"One Spirit," where it is a question of the one body, the church, 
as in Eph. iv. 4. But here it is the "seven Spirits;" because, 
when God shall have finished His present work in the church. 
He will infallibly cut off the faithless (Jewish or Gentile), and 
will no longer gather Jews and Gentiles into one body on the 
earth. On the contrary, in the millennial kingdom on earth, 
Israel is to be put above the Gentiles. (Compare Isaiah ii. 2-4, 
xi., xii., xxiv., xxxv., xlix., liv., Iv., lix., Ixv., and the prophets 
generally.) It will be a different state of things altogether ; and 
the Holy Ghost therefore is regarded in His various fulness of 
operations (as He is in connexion with Messiah in Isaiah xi.), 
and not in His heavenly unity. It is added, " who are before 
his throne," because the main subject of this book is the govern- 
ment of God ; first providentially and preparatorily in the seals 
trumpets and vials ; next personally at our Lord's appearing till 
the kingdom be given up and God be all in all. 

In general, when we have " grace be to you and peace," it is 
" from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." But 
in this place the order is as different as the style : finst it is 
" from him that is, and that was, and that is to come," i.e., from 
Jehovah; then "from the seven Spirits," &c. ; and lastly "from 
Jesus Christ." I think this departure from the usual order is 
because Jesus is here spoken of, not so much as related to the 
believer nor in His divine glory as Son of God, but in special 
reference to the earth and His rightful claims over the world. 

The Lord is first viewed as " the faithful witness." All other 
witnesses had more or less failed. He alone had been the faithful 
witness of God and for God on the earth. But this was at all 
cost to Himself Jiut though put to death, it was tlie defeat of 
this world's prince, not of Christ; and hence in resurrection He 
stands "the first-begotten of the dead." He is the first who 
entered into resurrection-life in this wondrous way which defied 


corruption to touch it. " Being raised from the dead, he dieth 
no more ; death hath no more dominion over him." But much 
more than this is conveyed. He is the heir and chief of the 
new estate, according to divine righteousness and counsels, of 
man beyond death and the grave, Lord not only of the living 
but of the dead, and this proved and displayed in the power of 
His resurrection. This He is, as faithful witness He was. So 
moreover He will prove to be at His coming in glory "the 
Prince of the kings of the earth," when it is a question of the 
government of the world. All these things are connected with 
what He w^as, is, and will be, as man. It is Jesus viewed in His 
earthly connexions, or at least without speaking of what He is 
in heaven. His intermediate relation to the church (as its Head, 
and as the "great High-priest") disappears, as not falling in 
with the design of the divine government here. 

But mark the beauty of wdiat follows. The moment Jesus is 
presented to the churches, and announced as " the faithful wit- 
ness, the first-begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings 
of the earth," the answer of joy and praise can be withheld no 
longer. The saints interrupt, if one may so say, the message of 
John, and break forth into a song of thanksgiving — "To him 
that loveth us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 
and hath made us a kingdom* — priests to his God and Father." 
He satisfies the affections by His love. He has cleared the con- 
science by His blood, and has put us in such glorious relationships 
as He stands in Himself to God and the Father. Yet even here 
it is not the distinctively Christian relationship. It is not son- 
ship known by the Spirit of His Son in our hearts, nor is it our 
membership of Christ's body. It is blessed to have access as 
priests, glorious to reign with Him ; but in both we share with 
the Apocalyptic sufferers at the end of the age. (See Eev. v. 10, 
and especially chapter xx. 4.) What is common will be true for 
all ; but this does not hinder distinction of privilege. 

* It is a clear allusion to Exodus xix., and follows the Hebrew idiom in the 
true reading, not exactly kings and priests here, but "a kingdom, priests." 
There is of course this essential difference, that there it was but an offer condi- 
tional on Israel's legal obedience ; here grace has given us the position, but the 
position itself is formulated Jewishly like all else, as the reader may have 
seen and may see yet more. 


There is a little alteration that should be made on excellent 
authority in this verse, which greatly adds to its sweetness and 
force. In the correct text it is " To hi in that loveth us," not 
" that loved us." It is quite true that " Christ loved the church 
and gave himself for it." Eph. v. shews us this ; — equally true 
that He " loved me and gave himself for me," as in Gal. ii. But 
the first of Eevelation shews us the present love of Jesus. It 
is not that He is always washing us from our sins : He washed 
us with His own blood once for all, and does not require so to 
wash us again. There is however the practical cleansing day 
by day — the washing of water by the word; but this is not 
what is spoken of here, but in His blood, a finished work, and 
one that lasts all through to His praise. But how blessed it is 
to know, while listening to the very book which most unfolds 
the ways and means by which God is about to put aside un- 
faithful Christendom, and to judge tlie evil of the world, that in 
presence of all this we can look up in the full confidence of His 
present abiding love, and say — " To him tliat loveth us, and 
washed* us from our sins in his blood ... to him be the glory 
and the might unto the ages of the ages. Amen." 

After the salutation, " Grace be to you and peace," &c., we 
had an interruption. It was the voice of the heavenly saints 
breaking forth into a strain of praise. Now we have (verse 7) 
those solemn but blessed words, " Behold, he cometh with the 
clouds ; and every eye shall see him, and those who pierced 
him : and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. 
Even so (or "Yea"), Amen." This is not a part of the song, but 
a testimony quite distinct from it. And we often find these 
two things : that which forms the communion of a saint of 
God, and then that which is or should be his testimony. 

The communion with each other is a great element of Christian 
happiness. Now it is the presentation of Christ and the know- 
ledge of Him and of our portion in Him which produces the 

* Another reading Xvaavri, "loosed," is supported by the three best uncials 
N A C, a few good cursives, the Syriac, some Slav, copies, and early writers. But 
or might be easily merged in v, and the idea of washing seems most in keeping 
with the style elsewhere. The common reading is supported by B P, the vast 
majority of the cursives, vei-sions, and citations. Doctrinally the diffei-encc of 
sense is unimportant. 


sense of fellowship and calls out worship. Besides this, the 
believer is acquainted by God with what is coming upon the 
world. And this is a part of our testimony, but not the theme 
with which tlie heart should be most filled. With a person who 
merely dwells on prophecy you may find interesting and grave 
topics, but not much fellowship of heart. For, however true 
may be his judgment of passing events, however sound his 
expectation of the future, grace in Christ alone leads to com- 
munion. It would be quite wrong to despise prophecy, and he 
who does will be sure to fall into some snare or other. But if 
the Christian is always occupied with the details of prophecy, 
there never will be power for heavenly worship ; nor does it 
necessarily deliver a man from the ways of the world. A person 
may have impressions correct enough about the Jews, the judg- 
ments on Babylon and the beast, &c., who may not yet walk in 
separation from the world. But when the heart is set upon 
Christ, and these predicted things come in as a sort of back- 
ground, then they all find their level. The Holy Spirit leads us 
into all the truth, glorifying Christ, and also shewing us " things 
to come." 

So in 2 Peter i. 19 it is said, speaking of the word of prophecy, 
"whereunto ye do well that ye take heed." It is important that 
I should see what is coming, and that I should not indulge 
myself in an easy path here below. To know that the Lord is 
coming to judge the habitable world ought never to be a comfort 
to those who are swimming with its current. But there is 
something else that may well be the delight of the soul — day 
dawning and the day-star arising in the heart. Peter does not 
here speak of the day arriving for the world, but affirms that 
the word of prophecy is an admirable lamp until you get 
heavenly light, and the day- star arises in your heart. It is the 
heart awakening to better hopes than Israel's, and of Christ 
Himself coming for us as its own proper portion. How many 
still as then, and naturally most of all among Jewish Christians, 
do not rise above a hope, formed by Old Testament prophecy, 
which is true and important, but not the heavenly hope given 
to us ? This is never presented in scripture as a bare prophetic 
event. Christ waited for and known as One who may come at 


any time to gather us together to Himself — such is the form 
taken by our blessed hope. It is the apostle Paul who, while 
fully presenting the appearing and the kingdom, specially brings 
out the hope of the church. John too looks at Christ as the 
Bridegroom, at what He is for the heart, after he has closed the 
general testimony of the Eevelation to His judicial dealings and 

When the Lord comes to receive us, He is not said to come 
" with the clouds." When He ascended, a cloud received Him. 
Even so will it be with us : we sliall be caught up together in 
clouds to meet Him. Bat here He is manifested for judgment 
of the world, and especially of the Jews. " Behold, he cometh 
with the clouds." This is a revelation known and testified by 
the heavenly saints, who cannot but love His appearing as that 
which will break the yoke of evil for the world, and secure 
God's glory and blessing to all creation here below; but it is 
not their own peculiar joy in communion. " Even so, Amen." 

In Colossians the association of the saints with Christ is very 
fully brought out in chapters ii. iii. He is my life, and I am 
identified with Him. Thus, inasmuch as Christ my Saviour is 
dead to the world, with Him I also have died to the world. Hence 
not only is my treasure there, but the very religion of the world 
is judged, because Christ was cast out by the world's religion. 
And when He our life shall be manifested, then shall we too be 
manifested with Him in glory. So liere, when He comes with 
the clouds, every eye shall see Him. But this will not be the 
case when He comes to gather His own to Himself on high. 
(2 Thess. ii. 1.) God is gathering the friends of Christ round the 
name of Clirist now. The church is a body that is called while 
Christ is not seen, and the Christian, having his portion in Him 
now, is hidden with Him. " Your life is hid with Christ in God." 
Next we are caught up to meet Him. After that (how long after 
we may seek to learn) God brings us with Him at His revelation 
from heaven. Not now chosen witnesses, but " every eye" shall 
see Him then, and especially the Jews, characterized as having 
pierced Him (compare Zech. xii. 10 with John xix. 37), and all 
the tribes of the earth shall wail because of Him. The words 
will eciually l»ear the of "the land;" in which case the 


clause would take in not the Jews only but the whole SuScKac^uXov 
or twelve-tribed nationality of Israel. Let the reader judge which 
best suits the context, as well as the enumeration of the verse. 
It is certainly not the twelve tribes in those who pierced Him, 
but of Israel distinguished from the more direct guilt of Judah, 
unless it be still wider. 

In this verse then it is not the Lord coming to meet His own 
and gather them to Himself in the air; but "every eye shall see 

him and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of 

him." When the Lord comes to translate the church, it will be 
far otherwise. God has joined us even now by the Spirit to 
Christ in heav^en, according to all the efficacy of His death and 
resurrection. As far as the spirit is concerned this is true now, 
and it will be true of the body itself when Christ comes. The 
resurrection of Christ calls me to live thoroughly to God, as the 
death of Christ makes me as truly dead in principle to the world 
as if I were already buried. In practice, alas ! we have to own 
sad falling short. Still, says the apostle, " your life is hid," &c. 
It is the life of Christ you have received. As long as Christ is 
hidden, you are hidden also. But the time is at hand when this 
will no longer be the case. " When Christ who is our life shall 
appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." When 
Christ comes to receive the church, no eye will see Him but 
those for whom Christ comes. When the world sees Christ, it 
will be when He comes in glory, bringing His saints with Him 
— revealed from heaven with the angels of His power, in flaming 
fire taking vengeance on them that know not God (the Gentiles), 
and on them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ 
(the Jews). If the world were to see Christ coming alone in 
glory before tlie church is caught up to Him, the inseparable asso- 
ciation of which the apostle Paul made so much to the Colos- 
sians, would cease to be true. But scripture cannot be broken. 
The world can never see Christ coming to receive the saints, 
because then they must have seen Him without them and before 
them ; whereas the same moment of His appearing is to be the 
epoch of our appearing with Him. He will come for us ; and 
we subsequently come along with Him. And this does not 
merely rest on a word here and there : it is the doctrine of the 

14 T^yoFOLI) aspect of Christ's second coming. 

whole passage. The same truth is sliewn and confirmed by- 
other proofs througliout tlie New Testament. 

Witli Christ by Ilis death we are dead to the world ; united 
to Him risen we are risen, and are therefore to have our hearts 
set upon heavenly things before we see them. And more than 
that : Christ is not always to be hidden. He is about to be 
manifested ; and when He is, we too shall be manifested along 
with Him. It is plain that Christ and the church must liave 
been together before they are manifested to the world, if they 
are to appear together. In Eev. xix. 11 we have this taught 
beyond all doubt. " I saw heaven opened, and behold a white 
horse ; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True. 

And the armies that are in heaven followed him upon 

white horses, clad in fine linen, white, pure." The horse is an 
emblem of aggressive power; the white horse, of this power 
prospering or victorious. Here it is the Lord Jesus coming in 
judgment, substantially the same time when He comes with the 
clouds. These armies that were seen in the prophetic vision 
following Him out of heaven, clad in fine linen, are not angels. 
The text says that the fine linen [Pva-cnvov) is the righteousnesses 
of saints. Now it is to be remarked that, although ant>els are 
described in chapter xv. as being " clad in pure bright linen," 
a different word (Xivov) is used. Thus the heavenly saints are 
those described in chapter xix. as the armies of heaven, &c. 
They were in heaven therefore before the way was opened for 
Christ to come out in judgment ; they had been caught up to 
meet Him before; and now they follow Him from heaven ^\'hen 
He comes. I doubt not that angels are in His train also, as 
appears from other texts ; but they do not seem spoken of here. 
There are thus two important and different stages of the 
Lord's second coming. First of all He will come to receive His 
peoi)le to Himself, and the church ought always to be waiting 
for this. In the next place He will come to judge tlie world, 
when He has already taken up the heavenly saints, and \vicked- 
ness rises to its head apace. Then suddenly the heavens will 
open, and the Lord Jesus Christ will come and the church with 
Him, appearing togetlier in the clouds of heaven with power 
and great glory. Is it asked how ? Israel was not told how 


they were to be delivered out of Egypt. Jehovali was going to 
deliver them ; but He did not explain the method before it came 
to pass. And the Lord is going to take the church to heaven 
by His coming. Besides this, He will judge the wickedness of 
the world ; but then the church will come along with Him from 

Verse 8. Here, it seems to me, that we have God as such, 
though as always not to the exclusion of Christ,* uttering tlie 
titles of His various but divine glory, as a sort of seal of the 
foregoing, and an introductory basis for what follows: "I am 
the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, He that is, and 
that was, and that is to come, the Almighty." The first (the 
aA^a and the w) is evidently a name most suited to the book 
wliich so admirably closes the written communications of God. 
He is the God of Israel, the ever subsisting Eternal, who had 
sustained the fathers, and thus attests the truth, not of the 
solemn warning alone just given, but of all here revealed to the 
end of time. Assuredly all His names here announced, it would 
be wholesome for the saints to remember, whether for us before 
the trial, or for those who shall be called on to pass through it. 
It is to be observed however that the special revelation to the 
Christian is precisely what is omitted here. He does not call 
Himself our Father in this prophecy. This, and the reason for 
it, readers have too often forgotten. Our hope and prophecy 
differ, as heaven does from the earth. 

Verse 9 is not quite correctly given in the ordinary text. " I 
John, your l)rother and companion in tribulation." The word 
"also" is left out in the best copies. And what follows should 
be read thus : "your brother and companion in the tribulation 
and kingdom and patience in Christ [Jesus]." The trouble, reign 
and patience all go together. He purposely speaks of himself, 
not as a member of the body of Christ, but as their brother and 

* At the close of the book (ch. xxii. 13) the Lord takes similar titles ; for if 
He were the exalted man and is to come and to judge as such. He was much 
more, and no designation of the Eternal God could exceed the dignity of His 
person. But the words of the common text in verse 11 ("I am Alpha and 
Omega, the first and the last and") are an interpolation there, and mar the sym- 
metry of the context. All the best MSS., versions, &c. reject them, and require 
'• God" in verse 8. 


companion in tribulation (perhaps because, after the church is 
taken away, there will still be saints on earth and our brethren). 
Jolin puts himself along with them. The Holy Ghost loves us, 
whatever specialities of privilege may come in, as much as pos- 
sible to take our place along with the saints of God at all times. 
The book of Eevelation was written for the church, just when 
it was drifting into a state of ruin. In chap. vi. we have some of 
these companions in tribulation ; but what they say proves that 
they do not belong to the church. " How long, Lord, holy 

and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood ?" 

We find a proper Christian appeal to God in the case of Stephen 
— "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." The Cliristian is 
always called to suffer in the world. These Apocalyptic saints 
will understand that the Lord is about to judge, and they will 
ask Him to do so. It would be wrong now to ask this, for it is 
the day of grace still. Faith habitually takes its language from 
what God is doing, and He is dealing in grace and not in judg- 
ment now. We are called to retire from the way of the world, 
and to attach our hearts simply to all that is glorious and 
heavenly, for this is the present object of Christ. The white 
robes given to these sufferers in chapter vi. are an evident 
mark of God's approbation. They were to rest till their brethren 
who should be killed as they were should be fulfilled. Judg- 
ment must then take its course. 

" In the tribulation and kingdom and patience." It will 
be the kingdom of Christ in power when the tribulation and 
patience are all over. But now the circumstances of that 
kingdom involve tribulation. The kingdom of heaven as pre- 
sented in the prophecy of Daniel is no mystery. It means the 
reign of heaven on (or over) the earth. But Christ, instead of 
getting His rightful place as Messiah when He came, was 
rejected, and went up to heaven ; and thus it is that the 
mysteries of the kingdom come in while He is there unseen 
save to faith. Hence it is that there must now be suffering 
and endurance in the kingdom as it actully is for the Christian. 
When Christ appears in glory, all this will be at an end. Then 
will come the kingdom and power. (See Rev. xii.) It is the 
kingdom and patience in Christ now. That word "patience," 


or endurance, is to be weighed well. We have communion 
with Jesus in this patient expectation; we wait for wdiat He 
waits. A man that is born anew now is not in the kingdom 
and power, but in the kingdom and patience in Christ. Hence 
suffering here below naturally follows. So here the apostle 
John was thrown into the isle of Patmos " for the word of God 
and for the testimony of Jesus." It was, I presume, for his faithful 
w^ork as an apostle in the gospel and in the church, ministering 
Christ in both. But he was inspired to speak of it in the tone 
of this book for reasons already suggested. 

Thus the ground on which John addresses the churches is 
not expressly as an apostle, but as their brother and companion 
in the tribulation and kingdom and patience in Christ Jesus. 
One remarkable trait which Christianity has brought out is, that 
God has opened to us another kingdom of an order differing from 
the earthly or Jewish one — a kingdom in wdiicli for the present 
there is tribulation, as far as our circumstances are concerned, 
and patient hope the corresponding and distinguishing grace; for 
Christ's love has made us kings, and we shall reign with Him. 

But the church has slipped out of its place of suffering and 
endurance ; it has sought and taken the place of power in the 
w^orld — the place that had belonged only to the Jews of right, 
and to the Gentile empires in divine sovereignty because of 
Israel's sins. In the presence of general failure it becomes no 
one to be high-minded; where there is real separation from evil, 
may there be humility! Wherever it is a question of ceasing to do 
evil, there is great need of looking to the Lord, lest one should 
say, " This is what I have done, and wdiat others have not done." 
Say rather it is all the Lord's grace. But those Christians who 
desire to stand aloof from the evil around them are in evident 
danger of giving themselves somewhat of credit for doing some- 
thing that others are not doing. In the presence of evil that 
we may liave done and left, the effects of which we have still 
to judge in ourselves, it is not a time to indulge in high 
thoughts of ourselves. 

When God executes His purposes towards the earth. His peo- 
ple will have fellowship with wliat He is doing, as of old in the 
land of Egypt, in the wilderness, and in Canaan. But when we 



look at Clii'istianity, it is not a question of earthly purposes, but 
of Jesus crucified through weakness, and of power put forth to 
raise Him again from the dead. Tliere will be again a most 
solemn dealing on God's part when Christ will judge not only 
the living but the dead. But for us the fire of God's wrath has 
fallen upon Christ ; His judgment was borne in grace by His 
beloved Son. And now God is imprinting on the hearts of His 
people heavenly glory. He is forming their character by these 
two great facts which meet in Christ ; the one is the cross, and 
the other is the glory into which He ascended. What God has 
thus done in Christ is what He wants us to have communion 
with. As the Israelites had the law engraven on stones, so by 
the Spirit should Christ be written on our hearts and ways. 
The life of a creature may be lost, but Avhat the believer has 
is tlie life of Christ; and can the life of Christ ever perish? 
Christ went through death in order that He might give a cha- 
racter of life which death could not touch. When the Lord God 
made man, He made him out of the dust of the field, but He 
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life ; and therefore is it 
that the soul is immortal. Adam had tliis life direct from the 
breath of the Lord God. Sin, however, may toucli it, and the 
second death — eternal misery in the lake of fire for soul and 
body. But that which Christ breathed after He rose from the 
dead (John xx. 22) was a life which death never could conquer, 
nor even assail more, over which nothing had a claim ; and such 
is the life of every believer. 

And yet there are those who fancy that the life of a believer 
may be lost ! I can only say that God does not deal with those 
who so think according to their thoughts of Him. The life is 
as strong in the Arminian as in the Calvinist, because it is the 
life of Christ. When a man is conscious that he has gravely failed 
against God, he is in danger of yielding to the fear that his 
blessing is gone. But no; you have sinned against that life, and 
against Him who is the source of it; but the life itself is there 
still, and cannot be touched ; it is eternal. Again, where a 
person is occupied in looking at the spiritual life within him, he 
will never have comfort. The proof that he is a Christian is 
that he has received the testimony of God's love in Jesus, 

THE lord's day. 19 

Verse 10. "I was in the Spirit on tlie Lord's day." John does 
not merely intimate that he had the Spirit as every Christian 
has, nor tliat he was filled with the Spirit as the Christian 
should be, but that he became as completely characterized by 
His power for the divine purpose of seeing and writing these 
visions, as he is for evil who is possessed of an unclean spirit. 
It was on the Lord's day or first day of the vveek. For the 
" Lord's day " is not at all the same thing as the " day of the 
Lord (fiixepa Kvpiov)." The same expression (KupiaKos) was used 
with regard to the Lord's supper, because it was not a common 
meal, but a holy and divinely instituted memorial of the Lord. 
So the Lord's day is not a common day, but one specially set 
apart, not as a command, but as the expression of the highest 
privilege, for the worship of the Lord. The sabbath was the 
last day which Jehovah claimed out of man's week ; the Lord's 
day is the first day of God's week, and in a sense, we may say, 
of His eternity. The Christian begins with the Lord's day, that 
this may as it were give a character to all the days of the week. 
In spirit the Christian is risen, and every day belongs to the 
Lord. Therefore is he to bring up the standard of each day 
that follows in the week to that blessed beginning — the Lord's 
day. To bring down the Lord's day to the level of another day 
only shews how gladly the heart drinks in anything that takes 
away somewhat from Christ. The man who only obeys Christ 
because he must do so has not the spirit of obedience at all. 
We are sanctified not only to the blood of sprinkling, but to 
the obedience of Jesus Christ — to the obedience of sons under 
grace, not to that of mere servants under law. The lawlessness 
which despises the Lord's day is hateful ; but that is no reason 
why Christians should destroy its character by confounding the 
Lord's day, the new creation-day, with the sabbath of nature or 
of the law. 

On that day then, specially dear to the Christian, bright visions 
of glory passed before the prophet's eye. First, John tells us 
what he saw on that occasion : this is what we have in the rest 
of the first chapter (verses 12-20). It was the vision of the 
glory of Christ's person in the midst of the seven golden lamp- 
stands. "The things which are" (ver. 19) we have in chapters 

c 2 


ii. iii., which describe the condition of the churches at that time. 
The third division of the Eevelation consists of " the things 
which shall be after these." The version "hereafter" is vague, 
for it niiglit mean thousands of years after. "After these" 
expresses the sense of the phrase much better. It means what 
was about to happen immediately after " the tilings which are" 
now — i.e. after the church-condition. Those we have from chap. 
iv. to the end of the book. The "things which are" continue 
still (in the most important application of the book). And what 
next ? " What is about to happen after these things," when the 
church has ceased to subsist on earth. 

Let us look a little at what the apostle saw. First of all, he 
hears behind him " a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying,* What 
thou seest write in a book (or roll), and send to the seven 
churches : unto Ephesus," &c. (ver. 11.) "And I turned to see 
the voice that was speaking with me. And being turned I saw 
seven golden lamp-stands." These were evidently derived from 
the light of the tabernacle. Only in this case the lamp-stands 
were separate, so that the Lord could stand between them. 
They were golden, as in divine righteousness set here to give 
light. Such was their responsibility. But another object fixes 
the attention of the prophet : Christ was in their midst as a 
judge. In the midst of the seven candlesticks he sees not 
exactly the Son of man, but " one like [the or a] Son of man." 
He is really God, but He is not so presented in the first instance 
here. From John v. we may learn the force of this, and why it 
is in this instance Son of man, and not Son of God. As Son 
of God He is one who quickens, because He is a divine person ; 
He quickens in communion with the Father. Thus giving life 
He is called the Son of God; but as Son of man He executes 
judgment, because God will have Him honoured in the very 
nature in which man outraged Him. This at once shews us the 
bearing of what we have in the Eevelation. It is as Son of 

* 11 is well known that the words in the common text here, " I am Alpha 
and Omega, the first and the last, and" have no suffieiont authority, and were 
evidently inserted by the mistake of some scriio. Admirable where God in- 
serts them repeatedly in this book, they only mar the connexion here when 
man added them wrongly. 


man on the earth that Christ is here presented ; and as such He 
is about to execute judgment upon the seven churches, as well 
as by and by upon the world. For thus it is He will inherit all 
things, though otherwise also. 

The " garment down to the foot," with which He was clothed, 
indicates not activity of work, but rather dignified priestly 
judgment. " Gold," as here in the girdle, is the symbol of divine 
righteousness; linen is explained to be what is saintly and 
displayed before men. " His head and his hairs were white 
as white wool, as snow." Thus, besides being Son of man, and 
being seen in the garb and place of priestly discrimination, 
there are the emblems too of divine glory, as appears by com- 
paring this passage with Daniel vii. What is said of the 
Ancient of days by Daniel is applied to the Son of man by 
John,* the Ancient of days being the eternal God. John sees 
here that the Son of man is Himself the Ancient of days ; as 
indeed Daniel shews Him coming as such (vii. 22). The same 
who wrote " The Word was with God, and the Word was God," 
and " the Word was made flesh," beholds now in prophetic vision 
the combination of humanity with the emblems they appro- 
priated to Deity in the person of the Son of man. The head and 
hairs being " white as white wool, as snow," shew fulness of 
divine wisdom. There is no mitre as if He were acting as high 
priest in gracious intercession ; He is judging. Still less do we see 
the crown or diadem. The time for His reign is not yet come. 
He is set down on the Father's throne ; not yet on His own. 

"His eyes like a flame of fire" set forth the penetration that 
marked Him in judgment. " His feet like fine brass,t as if 
burned in a furnace" — they could not contract any defilement, 
and are unbending in judicial strength, as dealing with respon- 

* The article is wanting in Greek to indicate the character in which Christ 
was seen: "a son of man" therefore is too vague and not the sense. If the 
article had been inserted, it would have conveyed the idea of Him as the known 
person whom John loved and followed on earth, rather than the character in 
which He appeared now. 

t The word x«^'<^o^/5«»'V seems compounded of xaXKoc, copper, and p7, 
white — a compound of Greek and Hebrew, which has been conjectured to har- 
monize with the book. Compare in this chapter vai a/ir]i^, ver. 7 ; also chap, ix, 
1 1 ; and perhaps elsewhere. 


sible man according to God. " His voice as the voice of many 
waters" expressed resistless power and majesty outside the 
control of men (verses 12-15). Such He is personally and 

Official description follows in verse 16. "And he had in his 
right hand seven stars," the emblem of tlie angels, or represen- 
tative rulers, of the seven churches. " A sharp two-edged sword," 
the word of judgment, not morally alone, but to death where 
needed, and this even against the apostles at the end, went out 
of His mouth ; because in the Lord Jesus Christ to speak the 
word is at once to strike the blow. " He spake, and it was done." 
" His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." 
Supreme authority in government was His as man. Such He 
was officially. The churches' angels were represented as "stars" 
only, as being of course subordinate to the Lord as instruments 
of heavenly light. Clearly then we have in the Lord sovereign 
authority, and universal in its range, as the stars are His ad- 
ministrative lights in the churches, which He maintains by 
His power. He judges by His word those v.lio have it or refuse 

When John sees this wonderful vision of the Son of man, he 
falls at His feet as dead. ■ But the Lord puts His right hand of 
sustaining power upon His servant who lay trembling, nay as 
dead, before Him, and says, "Fear not ; I am the first and the 
last, and the living One ; and I became dead, and, behold, I am 
alive nnto the ages of ages."* Here is no deprecating the more 
than homage of His servant, but the re-assuring him whose 
nature was as it were withered uj) before him. He is Jehovah 
yet man ; but if He had not died, we should not have known 
Him in the blessed character and energy of life that He has 
proved now — life more abundantly. Who then could say, " Fear 
not" as He ? Christianity presents Christ as having passed 
through death, and as risen in triumph for God and His people. 
John is going to hear about judgments, and the wiles, power, and 
wrath of Satan beyond the previous experience of men ; but the 

* The "Anion," though rea«l by B and most of the cursives, seems duo to 
the copyists making the phrase a doxology, either through unconscious habit, or 
dcsiij^ncdly adding afiijv as a correction. 


knowledge that the right hand of Him who was alive for ever- 
more had been upon him, and the words of His mouth, w^ould 
give him strength and courage for everything to come. And as 
this is the spirit in which the book was written, so it should be 

" Behold, I am alive uuto the ages of ages, and have the keys 
of death and of hades." The succession of these words in the 
common text is a mistake. Hades follows death, and does not 
go before it. (Rev. vi.) See also chap. xx. where we liave "death 
and hades" mentioned several times in their regular order. And 
so in the best authorities it is here. When the Lord says that 
He has the keys of death and of hades, He intimates that He 
is the absolute master of all that might threaten man whether 
for the body or the soul. Satan's power in this respect is 
annulled ; Christ has it all. 

Accordingly also, in verse 19, there ought on the best 
authority to be read a little word which adds somewhat to 
the force and connexion. " Write therefore what thou hast 
seen:" because I am risen from the dead and am alive for 
evermore, and the sole ruler of death and hades, write therefore. 
He who bade John write (verses 11, 19) was the Son of man, 
with the characteristics of the Ancient of days ; but He was 
also the living victorious Lord, the security against terror and 
death, the strengthener of His servants in presence of glory. 
"Write tlierefore what thou hast seen, and the things which are, 
and the things which are about to be after these." Human 
nature might well be confounded by the sight ; but He who was 
revealed to John characterised Himself both as G-od and as the 
man who had passed through death and destroyed Satan's title 
and held the power for His own. And this was to be written, 
this revelation of Jesus as seen of John, as well as the existing 
church-state, and the things which should follow (17-19). 

Verse 20 explains the mystery of the stars and lamp-stands, 
as already indicated. It is the connecting link between the 
vision of Christ and the judgment of the church, or house of 
God on earth (Rev. ii. iii.), as long as its existence there is 
recognized as the object of His government. After that it is 
the judgment of the world from God's throne in heaven, and 


Jews and Gentiles are variously dealt with, but churches never 
in that part of the book. All this, and the reasons for it, will 
appear more distinctly as we proceed. 

It is plain, from chapter i. 4, 11, and from what follows, 
that seven actually existing churches of provincial Asia were 
primarily meant. But while it is true that there were special 
reasons for addressing those particular churches, it does not to 
my own mind admit of a doubt, that they were selected with 
the further and larger design of presenting successive pictures 
of the church in general from the apostolic days to the close of 
its existence on earth. Hence it is that there were seven golden 
lamp -stands, seven being the well-known symbol of spiritual 
completeness. There might have been other churches as well 
or better known, and one of these seven had been already 
addressed formally by the great apostle of the Gentiles. But 
Ephesus is again taken up, and six other churches are asso- 
ciated, so as to make up a mystical and perfect sketch of the 
more important moral features which then existed, and which 
at the same time would successively be developed in the after 
history of the professing body upon the earth.* Many things 
which might seem most important in the eyes of men and even of 
Christians are passed by, for the Lord sees not as man sees. 

Another striking feature claims our notice and admiration. 
It might have seemed impossible to reconcile prophetic light, as 

* Every believer in the inspiration of the Ai)Ocalypsc of course admits the 
ever-living application of the moral pictures set forth in Hev. ii. iii., as is true 
of the Acts in the New Testament, or of the histories in the Old Testament. 
But the idea that the seven churches represent all churches, or the general state 
and character in John's day, appears to be mere confusion. The truth is, that 
each represents a distinct moral state, in which the professing body, wholly or 
in part, might bo at some given time. In a word, that the local assemblies then 
exhibited the special features described is true ; but they could not all charac- 
terise the then existing state of the church in general, because they set forth 
difFcront and even opposed moral conditions. If we admit then, as we must, an 
enlarged application, beyond that to the actual assemblies or to mere individual 
conduct, the natural reference' is to successive phases of spiritual condition, good 
or bad, in the history of the Christian profession. Perhaps the extreme partizana 
of the Protestant school of interpretation are not generally aware that their 
learned l<>adei', ]M(!de, thus (ixju-esses hiinself in his more mature "Short Obser- 


to the successive phases the church might assume from the 
apostolic age as long as it is found here below, with the continual 
expectation of Christ. But divine wisdom solved the difficulty 
even here, as the same end is secured in the Gospels and 
Epistles. The Lord was pleased to address seven contempo- 
raneous and actually existing assemblies ; but, in dealing with 
existing facts. He knew how to select and shape His instruction, 
so as to suit the states which should follow till He comes. 
What a comment on the Lord's answer to Peter's query, " Lord, 
what shall this man [John] do ? Jesus saith unto him. If I will 
that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee ? Follow thou 
me." In this X3art of the book mere literal time is excluded. 
It is not future but present, however protracted — "the things 
which are." 

But it will be found, I think, that He has here given promi- 
nence to those features, whether good or bad, which should 
reappear, and most aptly set forth what He foresaw to be of the 
deepest moment for him who might have an ear to hear till He 
comes again. And this extensive application seems to be 
strongly confirmed by that clause of the threefold division in 
chapter i. 19, which bears on these churches. They are charac- 
terized as " the things which are." No doubt they existed then 
in the time of John; but if they continued to exist, and if seeds 
that were then sown germinated yet more in after days, and 
thus imparted a graver significance to the words and warnings 

vations on the Apocalj'pse" (Works, p. 905): — "If we consider their number 
being seven, which is a number of revolution of time, and therefore in this book 
the seals and trumpets and vials also are seven ; and if we consider the choice of 
the Holj' Ghost, in that He taketh neither all, no, nor the most famous church 
in the world, as Antioch, &c., and such no doubt had need of instruction, as well 
as those here named ; — if these things be well considered, may it not seem that 
these seven churches, besides this literal respect, were intended to be as patterns 
and types of the several ages of the catholic church a principio ad Jin cm, that so 
these seven churches should prophetically sample unto us a sevenfold successive 
temper and condition of the whole visible church, according to the several ages 
thereof, answering to the pattern of the seven churches here ? And if this be 
granted, viz., that they were intended to be so many patterns of so many states 
of the church, succeeding in the like order the churches are named, then surely 
the first church (viz., the Ephesian state) must be first, and the last be the last," 


of our Lord, that subsisting state of the church on earth would 
still be fitly designated " the things which are," 

Thus Ephesus is the first great sample of decline through a 
relaxation or abandonment of first love. But was not this the 
notorious fact in Christendom generally before the last apostle 
departed to be with the Lord ? If in those days and yet more 
in the times which followed, there was a similar moral state, 
what more apt and natural than to treat the moral circumstances 
so as to convey the general lesson ? Again, without questioning 
that the message to Smyrna fully applied at that time, it is easy 
to see that tlie great and repeated persecutions which broke out 
upon Christians from the heathen are admirably set forth by it. 
So again the Balaam element would naturally come into great 
distinctness, when the world patronised instead of persecuting. 
Then further Jezebel is an immense advance in evil; and though 
no doubt there was that which furnished occasion for these 
references at the time when tlie Apocalypse was given, can it be 
denied that the outline was filled up in a most striking way, 
after the throne of the world established Christianity by its 
edicts, and when at a later epoch still the professing church 
formed a guilty union with virtual heathenism and enmity to 
the truth of God ? 

This glance, rapid as it is, over chapters ii. iii. will shew, on 
the one hand, why I conceive that the Apocalyptic churches 
are to be viewed as having a real, if indirect, prophetic bearing 
upon the sul^sequent states of the church as they presented 
themselves to the Lord's all-searching judgment. On the other 
hand it is clear, that to have made this bearing so marked as to 
be apparent from the first — to have given a distinct chronological 
history, if one may so say — would have falsified the true posture 
of the church in habitually waiting for the IxDrd from lieaven. 
For the Lord has nowhere else so spoken to or about the church 
as to keep it necessarily waiting for ages upon the earth. Of 
course the Lord knew that it would be so ; but He revealed 
nothing that would interfere with the full enjoyment of the 
blessed hope of the Lord's return as an immediate thing. In 
the parables of tlie Gospels which set forth His return, while 
space is left for delay, room is left for His coming, if so it 


pleased God, in their lifetime whom He then addressed. And so 
it is here. Though in the seven churches the full course of the 
church on earth is comprised in such varying and at last con- 
current phases as it seemed fit to the Lord to notice. He took 
care to found all on facts then present before His divinely 
piercing gaze, so as to maintain the balance of truth undisturbed. 

Some have taken advantage of this indistinctness to deny 
that these seven churches have the successive and protracted 
character which I have alluded to; but the evidence will appear 
more fully as we look at each church severally. Another con- 
sideration which ought to weigh much is, that after these two 
chapters (ii. iii.) churches are nowhere referred to as existing 
longer on the earth. In the concluding remarks of the book 
(chap. xxii. 16) the Lord says that He has sent His angel to 
testify these things in the churches. But throughout the entire 
course of the visions, and in all that is intimated of the con- 
dition of men here below, after Eev. iii. right onward, there is 
the most unaccountable silence as to the church on earth, if the 
church be really there ; while nothing is more simple, if that 
state of things be closed. And this quite agrees with chapter 
i. 19 : "The things which are, and the things which shall come 
to j)ass after these." After the churches are done with, and no 
longer seen as such upon the earth, the directly prophetic por- 
tion of the book begins to have its course. 

Further it seems that the introduction of a new phase in the 
succession of the churches does not necessarily imply the dis- 
appearance of what had been before it. In a word, after the 
new condition appears, there may be still the co-existence of 
older ones, and each may run on in its own sphere. This appears 
to be distinctly true of the last four, being marked thenceforth 
by a distinct reference to the Lord's coming, as may be seen in 
Thyatira and the churches which follow. 

Thus much may be said of the churches as a whole. Ee- 
sponsibility on earth is the question : not the privileges of the 
church or the saints in Christ, but the obligation of the churches 
to represent Him, and His estimate of their state. The light- 
bearers are formally under His scrutiny and judgment. Paul 
long before (1 Tim.) had shewn the church of the living God to 


be the pillar and ground of the trutli. Nowhere else in the 
world is the truth so inscribed and held up as in that house of 
God ; but even he (2 Tim. ii.) lets us see that such a privilege 
and responsibility would in no way preserve it from ruin ; for 
in this his last epistle he described its condition as that of a 
great house with vessels not to honour only but to dishonour, 
from which last the godly man had to purge himself. John here 
sets before us the solemn fact of (not the church judging, but) 
the Lord morally judging the churches by His word. Alas! the 
church pretending to be a judge, and hence becoming a murderous 
false prophetess, is a part of the evil that is judged in the church 
at Thyatira, as we shall see in chapter ii. 

Thyatira has another distinctive mark, in that it first has the 
Lord's coming, not spiritually or providentially as in the message 
to Ephesus and Pergamos, but actually, and hence, while these 
may have passed away, goes down to the end, as do those states 
which follow — Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, remarkable 
for being addressed by the Lord in characteristics either in part 
or wholly different from His appearance in the vision of chap, i., 
the characteristics of which last were uniformly employed in 
the addresses of the first three churches. And if we cannot but 
discern Popery in the Jezebel of Thyatira, not without the faith- 
ful remnant which in its simplicity refused her abominations 
and bore up against her bloodiest policy, can we fail to see in 
Sardis the cold correctness of Protestantism verging toward the 
world, with whose doom it is threatened ; in Philadelphia a 
testimony feeble but dependent on Christ, cleaving to His word 
and not denying His name, with "that blessed hope" full in 
view ; and in Laodicea that finally nauseous state of self-com- 
placent indifferentism which is more than ever rising up around 
us ? 




"VVe will now look at the first of the seven churches more 
particularly (verses 1-7). First, let us observe that John is told to 
write to the angel of the church in Ephesus. The address is no 
longer to " the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful 
in Christ Jesus." Nor is it to the saints with the bishops and 
deacons, as the word was to the Philippian church. Why is 
this ? The Lord's ways are always full of grace ; but they are 
righteous withal, and the church was a fallen and falling thing, 
so that He could no longer address them in His familiar love as 
formerly. Thus there was departure of the most serious kind 
from Himself, and John is directed to address, not the church, 
but its angel or representative. The angels spoken of in these 
epistles were men, and must not be confounded with the class 
of spiritual beings called angels.* The apostle John is employed 
by the Lord to send a message to them, and it would be con- 

* Origen and Andreas adopted the latter meaning, but Epiphanius and others 
expressly reject it. Many moderns suppose that the term is derived from the 
synagogue and that it answers to the "1"12^V Hvti' and nD33n jTll. But if this 
be so, the angel of the church cannot mean even a presbyter, much less the 
president or chief of the presbyters, as Vitringa argues, but rather what is called 
clerk or sexton. The New Testament term for this chazan or angel of the 
synagogue seems to be inrrjpBTrjg, who had the care of the books, &c. (Luke iv. 
20.) The ruler, or (1(0 ;^i(ruvdywy Of, was quite distinct; and of these there were 
several. (Acts xiii. 15.) Compare Lightfoot. (0pp. ii. pp. 279, 310.) Some on 
the other hand supposed that envoys may have been sent from the churches 
in Asia to John, that hence they were called dyyiXoi fKKXrjffituv (as John's dis- 
ciples sent to the Lord were, Luke vii. 24 ; others sent by the Lord Himself 
while here below, Luke ix. 52, and the spies sent by Joshua, James ii. 25), and 
that the Lord accordingly so addresses them in the messages which He com- 
mands to be written to the churches. But I prefer the idea of representatives, 
as most in keeping with the prophecy as a whole. 


trary to all the ways of God to use man as a messenger to 
angels in the ordinary meaning of the word. Angels often acted 
between God and man, but not men between Him and angels. 

But, further, there is no sufficient ground to affirm that the 
angel here addressed, though a man, is in such an official place 
necessarily as a bishop or elder.* He might have such a charge, 
or he might not. " The angel" always gives the thought of 
representation. In the Old Testament we have the angel of 
Jehovah, of the covenant, &c., and in Daniel we read of angels 
who were identified with Israel or other powers. In the New 
Testament we have the angels of the little children always 
beholding the face of their Father in heaven, which clearly means 
their representatives. So of Peter, in Acts xii., they said it was 
his angeh We may gather then that the angel here, though a man, 
is in some way or another the ideal responsible representative 
of an assembly. Hence, it could be said, " I will remove thy 
lamp-stand." It would be extremely objectionable to make this 
a defined official place, as it would introduce not merely a 
novelty, but one that clashes with all that is elsewhere taught 
in scripture as to the assembly. But it will not be doubted that 
in assemblies we find, as a fact, a particular person whom the 
Lord specially links with tlie assembly as characterizing it : he 
is morally identified with it, and receives from the Lord either 
praise or condemnation according to the state of the assembly. 

Here the angel is directly charged with the state of the 
assembly. The address being to him, and not to the assembly, 
put them as it were at farther distance from the Lord. What 
a tale this tells of the dreadful condition into which the church 

* Wc know from Acts xx. 17, 28, that in the church at Ephesus elders or 
bishops were duly appointed, as was usual at any rate in assemblies at all mature 
■where an apostle or an apostolic delegate like Titus could visit them for the 
purpose. But we have no ground to hi'lieve that "angel" ever was an official 
title for a chief ruler. It is probable, however, that the misunderstanding of 
this very term may have suggested or confirmed the invention of episcopacy, 
which was at first congregational rather than diocesan. Ignatius so singularly 
harps on that dignitary even in the most reduced form of his few genuine 
epistles as to give the idea of one anxious to accredit a comparatively new insti- 
tution. It is certain that scrijiture does not countenance it unless it be in this 
prophetic book of mysterious symbol — a precarious basis for a most impoi'tant 
charge which is ignored in the scrijiturcs devoted to questions of rule. 


had got ! He could no longer address these assemblies im- 
mediately. He had spoken directly to the Corinthians even ; 
for, guilty as they were, they had not so loved Him and then 
relaxed. But here the message is, "Thou hast left thy first love." 
Yet, if the church were not faithful, He had a faithful servant 
at least in John ; and he it is who in tlie first instance is 
addressed. And be it ever remembered that the church has 
never since recovered from that failure and place of comparative 
distance.* The church, the house of God, is a complete ruin here 
below. And in ruin the first thing that becomes us is that we 
feel it before Him. 

This in no way touches eternal salvation ; but the certainty 
of salvation is abused when employed to lessen what is due to 
God. In fact there is never a real sense of sin before conver- 
sion ; for if it could thus be, it would be accompanied with 
absolute despair. But after we have not conversion only but 
perfect peace, we can bear to look at our sin, and we can afford 
to judge it thoroughly. A holy angel does not know God as we 
ought to do — I do not say as we do, though that be true also. 
An angel enters into the wonders of God's power, " hearkeninor 
unto the voice of his word." But the depths of God come out, 
marvellous to say, about our sin, and in His Only-begotten, 
"seen of angels" indeed, but in living relationship with us. 

Here the Lord presents Himself as the One "that holdeth 
the seven stars in his right hand, that walketh in the midst of 
the seven golden lamp-stands " (verse 1). He speaks of Himself 
as having authority over all the representatives of the heavenly 
light, and going about among the vessels of His testimony. 
Tli^ representative is addressed ; the assembly is none the less 

* In this sense it is that we can understand how the churches, turning a deaf 
ear to these messages of Christ as they certainly did ere long, ceased to be re- 
cognized of God, and thus the strictly prophetic part, a fieXXn yiviaOca fiira 
Tavra, might apply in an inchoate or partial and protracted way ever since, 
while in a full and final sense there remains the absolute cutting off of the faithless 
Gentile profession, and the brief crisis of the latter when the prophetic portion is 
punctually carried out to the letter. This seems to be much confirmed by the 
mode employed to describe this abnormal ecclesiastical state, a tlai, "the things 
which are," which easily admit of indefinite prolongation. It is not the seven 
churches, nor the messages to them, but a phrase easily applicable both to their 
then condition, and to the protracted state of ruin in which we are now. 


responsible and dealt with accordingly. He is come to investi- 
gate, to judge — not yet of course the ungodly world, but — the 
assembly in Ephesus. What a difference between such a sight 
as this, and the view we have of Him and of the church too in 
Ephesians i. ii. ! There He is seated at God's right hand in the 
heavenly places, and there too God has made us sit together in 
heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Here He is walking in the 
midst of the candlesticks. His liand is needed; for none but 
He could meet the difficulties. But is it not solemn tliat He is 
so presented to that very church to which Paul had opened out 
the fulness of His heavenly grace, the fulness of their own 
blessing in Him ? But here He is obliged, as it were, to walk 
and vindicate His authority, not among those who know Him 
not, but where His love had once been well known — alas ! now 
forgotten and dishonoured. 

Observe the general character, as has been truly remarked, of 
this the first address throughout all its parts. Such is Christ's 
description ; such too the sin ; such the warning to the angel ; 
and such the promise to the overcomer. The Lord's position is 
ecclesiastical generally, holding the seven stars and walking iu 
the midst of the seven golden lamp-stands. 

" I know thy works, and thy labour, and tliy patience, and 
that thou canst not bear evil men; and thou hast tried those 
that call themselves apostles and are not, and hast found them 
liars : and thou hast patience, and hast borne for my name's 
sake and art not wearied" (verses 2, o). * Thus there were 
many things to praise. There was patience, and this is the first 
sign, if not the greatest, that Paul gives of his own apostleship. 
More than this, nothing is more ready to break down than 
patience, after it has stood many a trial. But here at Ephesus 

• The common text, followed by the Authorized version, is in some respects 
corrupted. Their toil was known, and endurance they wore not only eminent 
for, but they had it still. They had proved intolerant of evil persons, and 
especially of such as falsely claimed high ecclesiastical authority, whilst they 
had manifested their willingness to bear wrongs or afflictions for Christ's sake ; 
and in all this they were not weary. Such is the sense of the right readings 
and the true order. A few MSS. (16, 37, 38, 69), and versions drop ov before 
(cfKOTTirticaf, perliiips to seem verbally consistent witli kottov in the verse before; 
but the evidLiice for wliat I have given seems overwhelming. 


there was endurance. (Compare verses 2, 3.) Again, where 
there is patience, there might be the tendency to pass over evil, 
or at least evil men. But it was not so here. They had borne 
for His name's sake, but they could not bear evil persons ; and 
they had tried those that pretended to the highest place — to be 
apostles, and had found them liars. And thus they had gone 
on and were not weary. How sweet of the Lord (in His sorrow 
and, if we may so say, His disappointed love) thus to begin 
with all that was good ! 

But though there was what He could praise, He had against 
them that they had left their first love. It is quite evident that 
this is nothing special, but the general spirit or principle of 
declension of the church at large. Indeed it is very broad : so 
the angels that left their first estate ; so Adam ; so Israel. Alas ! 
we must add now the assembly of God, blessed and loved beyond 
them all. They had let slip the consciousness of the Lord's love 
to them, and hence the fresh energy of their own love to Him 
had waned. What produced love in them was their appreciation 
of the Lord's love. 

Let me just remark that the word "somewhat," in verse 4, 
seems to weaken the sense. It might convey the idea that the 
Lord had but little against them ; whereas, in truth. He was 
exceedingly grieved. Not to feel His love, not to return it con- 
sequently, was no small failure, especially where that love had 
once been enjoyed. But now it was faded, and what would not 
follow in time ? " Eemember, therefore, whence thou art fallen, 
and repent and do the first works ; or else I am coming unto 
thee, and I will remove thy lamp-stand out of its place, except 
thou repent." Solemn announcement ! Not only is an assembly 
liable to lose its place of holding up the holy light of God, but 
assured that so it must be if it depart from first love and repent 
not. It is a much easier thing to be zealous in doing than in 
repenting. But even this would not satisfy His heart, unless they 
got back to that first love which had produced their first works: 
otherwise the lamp-stand must be removed. The spring of grace 
is as gone. 

I doubt, on grounds both external and internal, that " quickly" 
should be in ver. 5. For when He thus comes to judge the ways 



of His own people, can it Le so said? Doubtless, when He 
comes, whether to fight with the Nicolaitans, or to take us to 
Himself, it is quickly. (Kev. ii. 1(3; iii. 11; xxii. 7, 12, 20.) 
But the Lord gives space for repentance, even if it were to 
Jezebel ; and how much more to His beloved Ephesians ? 

The removal of the lamp-stand does not imply that the church 
might not go on apparently as before ; but that it lost its place 
as a trustworthy witness for the Lord. Here again all is general : 
it would suit the Christian everyw,Jiere. Nothing makes up for 
distance between His people (or between the soul) and Christ. 
And such was the case, not merely with the assembly in 
Ephesus, but with the church generally, I think we may say, 
even then. This to my mind confirms the successional aim of 
" the things which are." Outward testimony might go on, but 
that is not what the Lord most values ; though value it He does, 
as far as it is simple, genuine, and faithful. Still He cannot 
but prize most of all hearts devoted to Himself, the fruit of His 
own personal, self-sacrificing, perfect love. He has a spouse upon 
earth, whom He desires to see with no object but Himself, kept 
pure for Him from the world and its ways. God has called us 
for this : not only for salvation, and for a witness to Himself in 
godliness, though this is most true and important, but beyond 
all for Christ — a bride for His Son ! Surely this should be our 
first and last and constant and dearest thought; for we are 
affianced to Christ, and He at least has proved the fulness and 
faithfulness of His love to us ! But what of ours ? 

The effect of thus looking at Christ is that the Christian is 
kept in the dust, and yet always rejoicing in Him. For the 
sense of failure in ourselves and others would be oppressive, 
but that we are entitled to find our joy in One who has never 
failed, and who notwithstanding loves us who have given such 
a feeble and falteiing witness for Him. Hence if we but go to 
Him so known, even in sorrowful confession. He will not let us 
part without blessing and strength. It is due to Him to own 
and feel our sin ; but to be occupied merely with failure never 
gives power : Christ must have the glory. And assuredly He who 
has delivered us from the wrath to come. He who can save from 
hell, can keep or snatch from every ditch on earth. Only let 


the Christian confess his sin, cleaving to Jesus ; this vindicates 
the name of Him who comes to his succour, and then the 
victory is sure. 

But what a comfort and how reassuring to find that, after His 
censure, the Lord again speaks of what He can commend ! 
" But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolai- 
tans, which I also hate" (verse 6). The essence of Nicolaitanism 
seems to have been the abuse of grace to the disregard of Chris- 
tian or even moral practice. The Ephesian saints had failed in 
cleaving with fresh fervour to that which is good, but they had 
fellowship with the Lord, rejecting false pretensions, and abhor- 
ring what is evil. People often say, there is no such thing as a 
perfect church on earth. I would ask such what they mean by 
a perfect church. Will any Christian man tell me that we are 
not to aim at everything consistent with the holiness of God ? 
I claim for the church just what must be allowed for every indi- 
vidual Christian. As there may be too many faults in the 
individual, so there may be in the church. But then there is 
this blessedness, that as there is One who dwells in the indi- 
vidual to guide and bless him, so the same Spirit dwells in the 
church, and Christ, cleanses it with the washing of water by the 
word. It is with the assembly as with the individual, that has 
both the Holy Ghost, who is the power of good, and the flesh 
which lusts against him. As in a man the soul may be said to 
pervade the whole body, animating it in every part ; so does 
the Spirit act in the church of God. When persons maintain 
that unholiness may be tolerated because no man is free from sin, 
it is Antinomianism ; and I believe it to be the very principle of 
the Nicolaitans. Each individual is bound to be ready to meet 
the Lord, having nothing left to be wound up when He comes. 
The Lord looks for the same thing from the assembly, because 
there is a divine power against evil in the church as in the 

Then comes the promise, with the word of admonition before 
it, but all general, like the danger and the threat. "He that 
hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches ; 
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, 
which is in the paradise of my God " (verse 7). 

D 2 


As for the paradise of creation, man had been put there and 
tried by the simplest test of obedience in a single instance ; but 
he fell. Now a new scene is opened. It is no longer the garden 
of Eden, but the paradise of God — " gfjnyGod," says the Lord 
Jesus — not of God only, in contrast with man, but of "m^ God " 
as Jesus knew Him. Into this redemption brings us. And 
therein is no tree of responsibility that could bring in sorrow 
and death. Tlie tree of life alone is there, which the glorified 
saint shall enjoy in peace. The church in Ephesus had fallen, 
it is true, from first love : but is anything too hard or good for 
the Lord ? Did any feel deeply and aright the wrong that was 
done to His grace ? If there was but one who overcame (and 
overcoming must be by strong faith, not mere preservation of 
original blessing ; it is overcoming inside the church too), to him 
was this promise given to comfort and cheer his soul. The 
Lord's grace is just as full now. May there be no soul here who 
has not ears to hear : if there are any who have, may they hear 
and overcome ! 

It is all well to " hear the church " in discipline, confiding in 
Him who is in the midst. But when the church leaves its first 
love, and claims all the more loudly to be heard, taking the 
place of Christ or of the Spirit, pretending to teach, what then ? 
" He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the 
churches." Individual responsibility comes distinctly out now 
as a principle for the Christian, as in IVIatthew xiii. for the dis- 
ciple, after the proclamation in chapter xii. of the judgment of 


In the message to Ephesus we have seen departure from first 
standino-. The next state is a different one. We have the church 
at Smyrna in trouble; the saints of God are suffering. They 
may have thought the fiery trial some strange thing that had 
ha])pened to them. But, on the contrary, it is more true that the 
Lord is grieved with a Christian when He leaves him without 
trouble for righteousness or for His name's sake. The Lord had 
Himself known tribulation to the utmost; but in Him it was 
only the trial of the good that was within, and the bringing out 
of His perfection. And poor as we are, we too may know trial 


apart from our evil. The Lord has two objects in view when 
He lays His hand upon a Christian in the way of chastening. 
It may come either because there has been something wrong, or 
because he is in danger of it and this is little felt by him. 
When David was out of tribulation, he falls into a snare. When 
his circumstances were full of trouble, then it was that he 
(inspired, of course, by the Holy Ghost) poured out those sweet 
strains that we read with joy to this day. The desire to get out 
of trial is a perilous thing for the soul. The trial may be sent 
to shew us what we really are, or, what is better, to prove what 
God is for us and to us : but it may be also sent to prevent us 
from falling into sin. The Lord in His love thus often averts 
the evil which He sees and we do not. I do not doubt that there 
is another and a deeper character of suffering, even fellowship 
with the sufferings of Christ, which must not be confounded 
with the Lord's faithful discipline, though sometimes it would 
seem the two things may be in a measure combined. In a 
certain sense all saints suffer now with Him, though all may 
not be called to suffer for Him. 

In Smyrna the Lord appears to have been meeting the 
declension from first love that had set in, and in order to do 
this He sent tribulation. It is no uncommon case — thanks to 
His name, for He is good and faithful. In what capacity does 
He speak to them ? " These things saith the first and the last, 
which was dead and is alive." His title, first of all, is that of 
a divine Person as against Satan. The Spirit claims for Jesus 
here, what Isaiah had before challenged for Jehovah. (Isaiah 
xli. 4.) And what was there that could not be claimed for 
Him ? He "which was dead and is alive." What a comfort for 
those who were in trial ! Who is it that speaks to them in 
their tribulation ? The One who had been in the deepest of 
sorrow and had gone through death itself. He who was the 
First and the Last, and who had formed all — He was the One 
that had died and was alive again. And this is the very One 
that I have to flee to in my trial. You will see thereby what a 
connection there is between the quickening of the dead and the 
comfort of those who are in trial. (Compare 2 Cor. i.-v.) Jesus 
was God, but He was man also. He was the suffering man, and 


He was the triumpliant man ; and as such He was able to com- 
fort them in their tribulation. What had He not gone through 

" I know [thy works and] tribulation, and poverty, (but thou 
art rich,) and the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews 
and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan" (verse 9). The 
word "Jews" here is used symbolically. It was a name given 
to the nation that was known as God's people, above all others, 
in olden time ; and these symbols were taken from the Old 
Testament. It seems to mean persons who, taking the place of 
being children of God, went back to hereditary religion. On 
the one hand, there was this outward trouble, which the Lord 
allowed for their blessing, and, on the other, there were those 
who were insisting on Jewish principles. (Phil. iii. 2.) But the 
Lord says, " Fear not those things which thou slialt suffer." 
Do not mind what persons say, or things done against you. 
" Behold the devil shall cast from among you into prison, that 
ye may be tried." Thus, by God's grace, the enemy himself is 
used as an instrument for the good of God's people in the per- 
secutions which he stirs up against them. There is nothing, on 
the other hand, whereby Satan more effectually draws aside 
than through a sort of quiet, easy-going, half-and-half Chris- 
tianity. God grant that His children may be preserved from 
having two faces or characters — that the Christian may never 
be worldly with worldly ])eople, and then put on the ways and 
words of a saint with his brethren. 

It is no new thing for the Lord thus to allow tlie efforts and 
enmity of Satan for the blessing of His saints. In the case of 
Job we see the same thing : indeed the Lord probed his servant 
there far more deeply. At each successive trial from Satan 
Job retained his integrity, and blessed the Lord ; but the Lord 
shewed Job himself — the very thing he needed for the full 
blessedness of turning away from self to the Lord. Then He 
shewed him Ood, and Job's comfort at last was as deep as his 

Job had no idea that he thought too much of himself; but 
this was just what God had to shew him he did. He loved to 
recall the time when the fruits of i^odliness in him drew forth 


the respect and esteem of men. But God shewed him how evil 
a thing it is to be occupied with the effects of grace in himself 
or on others. What the enemy of God and man could not do, 
Job's friends did. He could stand against the temptations of 
Satan, but he was provoked to folly by his friends coming to 
condole with him, and giving their misdirected opinions. When 
a person talks much about grace, not a little unjudged self is 
apt to be found there, we may be sure. Even Job had to be put 
in the furnace to find out tliat there was a great deal more 
besides grace in him. But though Satan might tempt without 
success, and his friends only provoke, when the Lord Himself 
comes in, then Job is soon thoroughly humbled. He sees him- 
self in the light of the presence of God, and exclaims, " Mine 
eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust 
and ashes." But the end of the Lord is as good at least as His 
beginning. He is ever pitiful, and of tender mercy. When 
Job thinks nothing of himself in the presence of God, the true 
stream of grace flows out, and he prays for his friends. " And 
the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his 

The case of Smyrna follows that of Ephesus. As already 
hinted, I should apply the church of Smyrna to the time when 
the church was called to pass through the tribulation that fol- 
lowed the era of the apostles — -the persecutions that were inflicted 
on the Christians by the lloman emperors. But it is good to 
remember that all is measured of the Lord. " Behold, the devil 
shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried ; and 
ye shall have tribulation ten days" (verse 10). The sufferings, 
death for Christ's sake, &c., of the Christians, were the few 
bright spots and manifestations of life in the second and begin- 
ning of the third centuries. 

" Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown 
of life" (ver. 10). The distinction of God's servants in glory is 
an important doctrine. For while it is essential to maintain 
that the very same grace which pardoned the thief on the cross 
was needed to save Paul of Tarsus, yet it would be a grand 
mistake to suppose that the thief will have the same reward in 
glory. Nevertheless we must not be afraid when the Lord says 


to US, " I know thy works." For though the vessels that are to 
contain the blessing may not be equally large, the little cup will 
be as full as the big one ; and filled, if I may so say, with the 
same materials of joy and blessing. In a glorified state there 
will be no such thing, of course, as a person being tried — no 
question of being faithful or unfaithful then. Before we get 
there, spiritual differences exist ; and when we are there, the 
distinctions of Christ's kingdom will answer to the character 
and measure of service here below, though the sovereignty of 
God must be maintained also. (Matt. xix. xx.) 

There follows this suited word of comfort to the faithful in 
Smyrna : " He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second 
death" (verse 11). Do not fear the first death; it is only a 
servant to usher you into the presence of God : the second 
death will not injure you. The Lord is like that tree of old 
which was cast into the waters of Marah. He went into the 
bitterest waters of death, which have thus been changed into 
sweetness and refreshing for us. 

Tlie Lord here announces Himself to the angel of the church 
in Pergamos as One armed with all-piercing power by the word 
of God, the two-edged sword that judges (verse 12). In 
the book of Revelation the sharp sword is at the command of 
the Lord Jesus as the instrument of judgment. What the sword 
is in the hands of man, so is the word that reveals God search- 
ing out and cutting through all obstacles. This the Lord applies 
in power ; it decides all questions that have to do with Him, 
There is always a great and beautiful connexion between the 
way or title in which He presents Himself and the state of the 
church which He is addressing. It was because the word was 
no longer that which liad living energy to judge in the church, 
that tlie Lord Jesus takes care to prove that it had never lost 
its power in His hands. As the first church shews us declen- 
sion set in, even in the days of the apostle John, and Smyrna 
the time of persecution from the heathen, so here we have a 
totally different state of things. Pergamos is the scene of 
Satan's llEittering ] tower or seduction, whicli was just what he 


used after the violence of persecution liacl spent itself. It was 
a more dangerous device than the second ; for when set on any- 
thing that is wrong, there is nothing that more shews a case far 
gone and desperate than God's giving one up to his own will 
without further remonstrance. " Ephraim is joined unto idols : 
let him alone." In the case of Smyrna we see the clean con- 
trary of this : the Lord was intercepting the power of Satan 
through persecution from without, which was used of God to 
hinder the growing corruption within. 

Afterwards the god of this world promised Christians every 
worldly advantage. The emperor himself offered to become a 
Christian, though he put off baptism till his death-bed. There 
was no plainer proof how completely the church had fallen 
through forgetfulness of the Lord's name, than when it accepted 
the emperor's terms and the patronage of the world. Even 
those who were saved had entirely lost sight of what the church 
was, as not belonging to the world, but of heaven. The Eoman 
empire was essentially the world's power. The church had been 
called out to be the standing witness of these two things : first 
of the world's ruin ; and secondly of God's love. But when 
we see the church shaking hands with the world all is gone, and 
the church slips down into the mind of this age. If the world 
gains in some respects, the church loses in everything ; and no 
wonder, because it is at the cost of the will and glory of Christ. 

Satan's " throne " is the sense : in presence of it, who does 
not see the propriety with which the Lord presents Himself, as 
armed with the sharp two-edged sword ? It is the same word 
as is used for " seat " as well as " throne " in other parts of this 
very book ; but here it is properly a " throne," because Satan is 
spoken of in respect of authority. It is obvious that all this 
exactly describes the state of things in Constantine's time. 
Instead of being at the stake and suffering for Christ's sake, 
the church was now yoked with the world in a mere profession 
(jf Christianity ; for as the world did not really rise to Christ, 
the church must sink to the world's level. No wonder the Lord 
says thereon, " Thou dwellest where Satan's throne is." Yet He 
allows all that He can, even where this miserable association 
was found — His assembly dwelling where Satan's throne was. 


They maintained still His name, and did not deny the faith 
which was given to the saints ; but this was all. They held 
fast His personal glory, and did not deny that which was 
revealed of Him because of flesh and blood. They believed of 
Him what eye had not seen — His Deity. Against this Satan's 
wiles were directed, as of late he had sought to destroy those 
who confessed the truth. They had just come out of the great 
persecution in which Antipas was slain. But now the church 
at Pergainos, instead of suffering, was dwelling quietly in the 
world. Like Lot, they too had their righteous souls vexed with 
the ungodliness of those around. 

The Lord accordingly brings forward the things of which 
He had to warn them. " Thou hast there them that hold the 
doctrine of Balaam " (verse 14). What was the leading feature 
we see in the son of Beor ? He was led by his covetousness to 
try and serve the bad king of Moab by cursing the people of 
God. When God gave him an answer, he goes to God a second 
time, because his heart wanted its own way. And it is solemn 
to learn that if God gives you up you may get what you want. 
Balaam afterwards falls into even worse evil. He was indeed a 
man whose heart was not with God. He said some true things, 
but his spirit was not in them. He always speaks as it were 
from without, as a miserable man, afar from the blessing which 
he saw. " I shall see him, but not now ; I shall behold him, 
but not nigh," &c. He goes on step by step, until he lends 
himself to be the corrupter through tlie world even of God's 
chosen people. 

And so it was with the church. Even the philosophers began 
to take up Christian truth, and in the writings of the fathers 
we find pretty much what we have here. What fornication is in 
moral things, such was their illicit commerce with the world in 
the things of God. There were, I doubt not, witnesses who were 
made very little account of, save in heaven ; but one of the men 
who had the largest and most lasting influence of all, Augustine, 
was a true saint of God, and, though it may not mean much, 
the greatest light of the western church. He had held the 
name of Christ and had not denied his faith. All agree that 
these epistles applied prinuirily to the churches to which John 


wrote ; but many do not see that they also apply to different 
stages of the church, and describe its various states successively. 

The doctrine of the Mcolaitans* seems an evil from within, 
as that of Balaam was rather from without. Such it was in 
principle and doctrine now. AVe read of tlieir deeds in Ephesus, 
but this went farther and deeper. It was a corruption of grace, 
a turning it to licentiousness. Sanctity is the greatest snare if 
it be not real, yea, if it flows not from the truth ; yet nothing 
more terrible than that grace, where it is known or at least 
talked of, should be abused. If we search our own hearts and 
ways, we shall find that it is the very thing we all tend to do. 
Grace has set us completely free through Him who died and 
rose again ; and what claim has it not on our hearts ? Do we 
not often treat God's grace to us in the very same way that our 
children in their most hardened mood treat us ? They then take 
all as a matter of right. Though creation has been brought 
under subjection to vanity on account of Adam's sin, yet there 
is no moral evil connected with its lower forms. But in man's 
case it is not so. Knowing the evil, he yet goes on in it. And 
even when we have got the certainty of deliverance, if the joy 
of it have passed away in a measure, we begin to use the Lord's 
grace just to serve ourselves. This, carried out without con- 
science, is Nicolaitanism. 

God's grace was meant to bind us thoroughly to Himself We 
might see a person fall into evil (and this, of course, is truly 
sorrowful in a Christian), but there is a great deal more of evil 
that others do not see. God gives us the opportunity of jud<j-incr 
ourselves when no one else perhaps knows anything about it. 
If we do not judge "it, then the end here below is, that the very 
world may pronounce on it ; and we may be sure what a vast 
amount of evil must have gone on in secret, when God allows 
one to fall so that the careless world judges one's course as evil. 
But we must not Ije discouraged. It is just where the truth is 
most preached and held that Satan will invariably try to brin"- 
in the worst conduct and heresies, in order to bring shame upon 

* The true reading of verse 15 is "likewise," instead of "which thing I 
hate," which was probably copied from ii. 6. The sense is, that there were such 
as held the Nicolaitan doctrine, as well as those who held that of Balaam. 


the testimony of God. When a man slips from a pinnacle or 
height, he must have a fall so much the more terrible ; as also 
it will be much more manifest to the world than if he had 
merely upset on the plain. 

The Lord does not say, "I will fight against thee with the 
sword of my mouth," but "against them" (ver. 16). The sword 
of judgment may, it is true, act in taking them away by death, 
as in the case of the Corinthian saints, who were judged of the 
Lord here below that they might not afterwards be condemned 
with the world. Christian discipline does not mean putting 
away those who are not Christians from those who are; rather 
it contemplates the purging out of Christians who are walking 
wrongly, in order to maintain the honour and holiness of the 
Lord in their midst. Mercy is the great motive of discipline, 
next to the maintaining of Christ's character in the church. It 
is at the bottom of the Lord's ways with us, and surely it should 
be so for us with others. 

The fact of the church's getting into the world isolated at 
once the faithful Christian. The church only became invisible 
through sin. It was not God's intention, it is not according to 
His heart, that it should ever be so, though I believe that all 
was permitted and ordered wisely. God did not make a light to 
be hid, but to be set on its due stand. Such was the fact now : 
Catholicism reigned, if you take the protracted view, which soon 
paved the way for Popery. But if the word penetrated him who 
had an ear to hear, it gave secret fellowship with Christ when 
the public position had become settledly false. Hence to a true- 
hearted saint, amid all this ruin and confusion. He says, " I will 
give to eat of the hidden manna" (verse 17). The manna repre- 
sents Christ Himself as He came down from heaven and took 
a place of abasement in the world. Those who were slipping 
away into the world are reminded of the place which Christ 
took down here. The "hidden manna" refers to the use which 
was made of the manna for the ark : a certain portion of it %vas 
taken into the holy place as a memorial before God. The 
faithful are to eat not of the manna only, but of the hidden 

It is not merely that wc shall share in and enjoy with 


all His glory as exalted on high and as disj^layed before the world, 
but God will give tis special communion with Christ as He was 
here below. How sweet in glory it will be, that He who will 
have brought us into all the enjoyment and peace of heaven is 
the same One we have known in all His path of sorrow and 
rejection in this world, with whom we have shared it ever so 
feebly here, feeding on Him as our portion even now ! The 
white stone was a mark of entire acquittal. May we be thus 
looking forward to Christ ; and may God give us to taste His 
own delight in His Son as He was here below in His outcast 
position ! Along with this goes the white stone, the portion of 
souls faithful to Christ in a state of things like that of Pergamos, 
when the church and the world were enjoying themselves 
together. When in heaven such will enjoy the same food that 
sustained them here. Christ will be there more than ever to 
enjoy on high ; and such shall have the white stone, " and on 
the stone a new name written, which no one knoweth save he 
that receiveth it" {i.e., the expression of Christ's own secret 
satisfaction in the way in which you have suffered for Him and 
served Him below). Assuredly the heart will most prize what 
Christ will give between Himself and it alone — what none will 
know but ourselves and Himself. The Lord grant that we may 
be separate from every allurement which Satan offers through 
the world, althoucrh none should know all but Himself now. 
Even in glory the joy of His secret approval will not be lost 
but known more profoundly than ever. 


There is an important change of arrangement that occurs in 
this cliapter, beginning with the epistle to Thyatira. In the 
first three clmrches the warning word (" He that hath an ear, 
let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches") comes 
before the promise ; but all the four concluding churches have 
the promise before the call to hear. These at least will be found 
to be the representatives of states of the church which go down 
to the end. 

Now there must be a reason for such a change — a sufficient 
reason why the Holy Ghost should uniformly adopt one ar- 


rangement in the three earlier epistles, and as uniformly depart 
from this and adopt another arrangement in the four last. There 
is nothing haphazard in the word. As everything He has done 
in His dealings with man, as all that He has made even in 
creation has its purpose impressed by Him, so is it much more 
with that word which developes His ways and displays His 
moral glory. And this is of vast practical moment to us. For 
remember the secret of strength is in a Spirit-taught knowledge 
of God and His ways in Christ. To enter into and enjoy the 
thoughts and feelings of God, as manifested in what He does 
and says in His own revelation of Himself, is that which wins 
and keeps, purifies and strengthens the heart of the believer. 
Israel did not understand His ways, and therefore never know- 
ing His heart, they erred in their own ; as it is said, " they do 
always err in their heart, for they have not known my ways." 
Moses, on the other hand, did appreciate the heart of God, and 
accordingly of him it is written, that "the Lord made known 
His ways unto Moses." 

In the first three churches, then, the call to hear is addressed 
formally to the whole assembly concerned ; but in the last four 
the change of situation appears to mark greater reserve. It 
seems to be intimated by this, that none is expected to hear but 
he who overcomes. Therefore this class is thenceforth, in a 
manner, singled out from the rest.* Evil has now set in over 
the professing body ; so that the promise is not, and could no 
longer be, held out in the old indiscriminate way. From this 
distinction we gather a remnant begins to be more and more 
clearly indicated. 

Something analogous to tliis appears elsewhere. Thus in the 
seven parables of ]\Iatt. xiii. the last three were unquestionably 

* It is a singular oversight that any thoughtful readier should meet the ques- 
tion, "To whom does the Spirit address these words?" by the answer, "To tho 
angels of those churches," even supposing the angels to be their "bishops," 
which has been shewn to be not only unfounded but contrary to the tone and 
object of the Revelation. It is a sorry thing to deduce either episcopacy or 
congregational ministry from a most solemn appeal to him that has ears to hear, 
when the church is being morally judged. The Spirit speaks to the churches, 
but the individual is made prominent even here; and this, still more strikingly 
viewed as following the ovcrcomcr, from and after Thyatira. 


marked off from their predecessors, and were addressed to a 
higher degree of spirituality. The first four were uttered out- 
side to the multitude, the last three to the disciples only within 
the house. Wherever we fiud in the Bible a series of parables, 
prophetic visions, or the like, grov^ped together as these are, 
there is commonly, not to say invariably, some such line drawn 
between those which commence with a general bearing, and 
those which become more special and narrow as we approach 
the goal. This is strikingly true of these Apocalyptic epistles, 
the last four of which sever the overcomer from the unfaithful 
surrounding mass. In short the formation of a faithful remnant, 
who were at first, I suppose, only morally separate from the 
mass which bore the Lord's name (now alas ! untruly), becomes 
increasingly distinct. In the case of Thyatira the Spirit of God 
seems to make the principle plain and patent, as will appear 


The Lord Jesus introduces Himself here in His character of 
Son of God, followed by a description borrowed in the main 
from the vision which the apostle had seen in chap. i. " And to 
the angel of the church in Thyatira write, These things saith 
the Son of God that hath his eyes as a flame of fire, and his 
feet [are] like fine brass" (verse 18). 

If we trace what the scriptures say of the Lord Jesus viewed 
thus, two things more particularly are seen. As Son of God, 
He is the source and sovereign giver of life. (John v.) The life 
which we by faith derive (" for he that believeth hath everlast- 
ing life ") from the Lord Jesus Christ is life in such power, that 
even the bodies of such as possess it in Him will rise from the 
graves to a life-resurrection ; while others who have it not must 
rise to a judgment-resurrection. (John v. 28, 29.) In the resur- 
rection of judgment none can be saved. No Christian will 
appear before the judgment-seat of Clirist as a criminal to be 
tried. All Christians will appear before it (as must all men) ; 
but the result before the world will be, in spite of loss of reward 
in certain cases, their glorious manifestation as justified men. 
But if you or I had to appear to see whether we were righteous, 
and so could escape condemnation, could there be one ray of 


hope for us ? Notwithstanding there never can be, or at least 
there never ought to be, a doubt as to the absolute salvation of 
those who have life in and from the Son of God. The judg- 
ment-seat of Christ will clearly display them as justified persons. 
But we need not and should not wait for the judgment-seat to 
know that we are justified; we are dishonouring God's grace 
and His Son's work not to know it now, " whereof the Holy 
Ghost also is a witness to us." Faith is entitled by divine war- 
rant to a full justification now and here below, according to the 
worth and acceptance of the Lord Jesus in God's sight. 

And this leads us to the second of the privileges alluded 
to, as connected with the "Son of God." Pie gives liberty as 
well as life. " If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye 
shall be free iudeed." (John viii. 3G.) These are the two great 
aspects of blessing which characterize Jesus as the Son of God. 
He imparts not only life but liberty too. Not that they have 
always or necessarily gone together. For a man might have 
spiritual life and yet be in grievous bondage, as one observes 
too often. This is also what we read of in Eom. vii. A person 
who is converted has life, but may be withal the most miserable 
of men as regards his own experience. " wretched man that 
I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?" In 
chap. viii. we have the answer of grace. "For the law of the 
Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free [or delivered 
me] from the law of sin and death." Liberty now goes with 
the life of the Son of God, for He is the risen Lord who died, 
for me and discharged me from all the claims of law, and of 
every other thing or one which might else arrest my blessing. 
The servant does not abide ever in the house, he might have 
notice to quit ; but there is no such thing as the son's leaving the 
house. And it is thus as sons God puts us in His house, in 
the place of full and holy liberty. 

What a searching but blessed title this was for the Lord 
Jesus to take, especially if lie were not only providing for the 
then need of the assembly in Thyatira, but picturing besides 
that state of departure from truth, and even the depths of 
Satan, which characterized the middle ages ! In Ephcsus, when 
almost all the apostles had disappeared from the world, there 


was decay of first love ; in Smyrna, persecution from tlie 
heathen powers ; then in Pergamos, the allusion is plain to the 
era when Christianity gained the ascendant in the world, and 
when consequently the church consummated and sealed the loss 
of her sacred and heavenl)' separateness upon the earth. The 
power of the world never gained a greater victory than when it 
was externally vanquished by the cross ; when, by merely pro- 
fessing Christ's name in baptism, all the Eoman world was 
treated as born of God ; in short, when apparently heathenism, 
but really Christianity, succumbed before the rising sun of 
Christendom. In many respects it may have been a mercy for 
mankind, as it certainly was the greatest event in the govern- 
ment of the world since the flood ; but who can estimate the 
loss for the saints, and the dishonour of their Lord, when the 
Christian body exchanged their place of suffering now in grace, 
hoping for glory with Christ at His coming, for present authority 
in, yea over, the world ? In Thyatira we arrive at a period 
darker still — the natural consequences of those pleasures of sin 
for a season. When the empire professed the cross and arrayed 
it with gold, it was not only that God's children were favoured 
and caressed, instead of having to wander in sheep-skins and 
froat-skins, or to hide in dens and caves of the earth, but 
inevitably their enemies were attracted, and the Balaam-state 
became developed, and man ran greedily after error for reward. 
But the Jezebel-state is worse even than that, and most signifi- 
cant of the bloody and idolatrous prophetess who sought to be 
universal mistress in the so-called dark ages, and dark indeed 
they were ! Of this I believe the church in Thyatira to be the 
remarkable foreshadowing. 

But the Lord loves to praise what He can, and it is in a 
dreary time that He is glad to be able to approve of the least 
good. Here in the growing darkness of the public state, there 
was growing devotedness among the real saints. " I know thy 
works, and love, and faith, and service,* and thy patience, and 
thy last works [to be] more than the first" (verse 19). "And 
thy works" ought to be left out, and the clause following should 
be, "and thy last works," &c., on ample authority. This the 

* This is the true order. 


sense, I think, fully confirms to a spiritual mind. " But I have 
against thee that thou sufferest the woman [or, thy wife] Jezebel 
that calleth herself a prophetess; and she teacheth and de- 
ceiveth my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things 
sacrificed to idols." Thus there was much energy and devoted 
service; but withal the greatest evil threatened them or even 
then was at work. 

When Jezebel sat as a queen in Israel all was ruin and con- 
fusion ; but the Lord did not fail to raise up a suited witness 
for Himself It was then that we find an Elijah and an Elisha, 
and even another where naturally one might least expect it — in 
the very house where evil was paramount. There was he who 
gave refuge and food to the persecutetl prophets of the Lord. 
Just as in the New Testament we hear of saints chiefly to be 
saluted who were of Caesar's household, so of old there was an 
Obadiah, who feared the Lord greatly, over the house of Ahab, 
" which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the 
Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up." It was then too was 
found the remnant of 7000 who had not bowed the knee to 
Baal. I think the Lord would have said of that remnant what 
we have in the epistle to Thyatira — " Thy last works more than 
the first." The wickedness of those who surrounded them made 
their faithfulness more precious to the Lord; and He praises 
them more, perhaps we may add, than if they had lived in a 
day less trying; just as, on the other hand. He cannot but 
deal niost sternly with evil, which is done in a day of special 
light and mercy. How many Ananiases and Sapphiras have 
there been since Pentecostal times, who have not been visited 
in the same open and unsparing way as when great grace was 
upon all ! This is an encouragement to us who know ourselves 
to be exposed, not indeed to a storm of persecution, but to a 
season far more perilous. There never was a time when man 
thought better of himself; and this is so much the graver sin, 
inasmuch as the testimony of God's truth to the contrary has 
been widely spread abroad. I do not deny that it is a day of 
no small effort among Christians. But " to obey is better than 
sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams ;" and never has 
there been less subjection to the will of Cod than at this 


moment. There is mucli association, which sounds well, — 
much taking counsel together ; but confederacy is one thing, 
endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit is another and 
widely different thing. But the Lord says, " To this man will 
T look, even to him that is ]DOor and of a contrite spirit, and 
trembleth at my word." The matter of real weight is not 
getting Christians together, even if they were all Christians, 
but together in the Lord's way, and for the Lord's glory as their 
object — the "one thing" they have to do. If but two or three are 
thus gathered unto His name, we have his own assurance that 
His power and blessing will be there, spite of all appearances 
to the contrary. Had we two or three thousand together, but 
not in immediate subjection to the Lord Jesus, we should have 
only shame and sorrow in the end, however it might look for 
awhile. If we are seeking to please men, so far we cannot be 
the servants of Christ. 

It was then, it seems to me, when the Lord has before His 
eye the state of a church which might well prefigure the dark 
development of an after-day (when the saints should be in great 
bondage, and that which was altogether alien in the midst per- 
secuting them, and His own authority null in practice), that He 
brings out His title of " Son of God," whose eyes were as a flame 
of fire, and His feet like burnished brass. Peter of old had con- 
fessed Him to be the Christ, the Son of the living God ; and 
thereon the Lord, immediately after pronouncing him blessed 
and emphatically naming hini by the new name He had given, 
adds, " upon this rock I will build my church." Now alas ! 
the Lord anticipates that the professing church would lose its 
balance and set itself up virtually in His own place, giving out 
that she, the lady, "that calleth herself a prophetess," was to be 
heard in matters of faith, not He, the Lord. Here then we have 
the assertion of His personal glory and the attributes of His all- 
searching and unbending judgment of men — a serious but com- 
forting thought for His own people, who might be in the midst 
of this sad confusion, and the perfect provision of His wisdom to 
deliver them from what was setting or set in. They would need 
and enjoy the immutable foundation, the Son of God, and the 
assurance that His church built on that rock could not fail, 

E 2 


when public appearances were against it as against Himself in 
Israel. They were worse than nothing in the eyes of their per- 
secutors ; they were precious in Christ. It was a severer trial 
than from Jews or heathens ; but the Son of God was no heed- 
less spectator of all. So too His promise (26, 27) ought to guard 
them from seeking a present kingdom, a so-called spiritual 
millennium without Christ, where they should be either free 
to enjoy the world or entitled to govern it as yet. 

In the church at Thyatira there were faithful and loving 
souls, earnest too, especially in good works ; but there was this 
plague-spot also — the sufferance of "the woman* Jezebel." 
Jezebel, as we are told here, was a false prophetess, who was 
teaching and deceiving Christ's servants to commit fornication 
and eat idolatrous sacrifices. This was worse than the iniquity 
of him who loved the wages of unrighteousness, a step farther 
even in Balaam's line. " And I gave her space to repent, and 
she is not willing to repent of her fornication. Behold, I cast 
her into a bed, and those that commit adultery with her into 
great tribulation, except they repent of her works. And I will 
kill her children with death, and all the churches will know 
that I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts, and I will give 
to you, each one, according to your works" (verses 21-23). 

What could be more shocking than the evil here foreshown ! 
Jezebel, as all knew, was one who added violence to corruption, 
the counsellor of blood, the active hater of all God's witnesses, 
the patroness in private and public of the idolatrous priests 
and prophets of Baal. And now in Thyatira Avas fouud that 
which intimated to the Lord's eye the dark and cruel idolatry 
which was to be formally taught and imposed by a pretended 
infallible authority within the bosom of the professing church. 
Even now the actual germ could not be hid from Him whose 
eyes were as a flame of fire. Jezebel was there and "her cliil- 
dren" too. It was a deep and lasting source of evil. But the 
judgment of her and of all that sprang from her was severe, 

* The Sinai and rorphyiian uncials lend thoir stroni? support to the Paris 
palijnpsost, with many cursives and versions, against the insertion of aov, as read 
in Codd. A. "2, and many cursives, &c., which would reipiire the rendering of 
" thy wife." 

"THE WOMAN." 53 

however it might seem to linger. The Lord discerns different 
degrees of connexion; but none should go unpunished, let 
Christendom decide as they might that evil must be allowed 
under His adored name. Kepentance was absolutely refused, 
though the Lord had given ample space for it. "Fornication" 
(for such is the figure used) was both taught and practised. 
Long patience on His part is the sure sign, both that the object 
to be judged was in a thoroughly evil condition (else He comes 
quickly in the jealous care of true love that counts on a true 
answer), and that when the judgment comes, it must be defini- 
tive and unsparing. " The woman," it has been long remarked, 
symbolizes the general state, as "the man" has the place of 
responsible activity. 

The words " a few things," in verse 20, must disappear. It 
was not a little complaint, but one of unusual gravity and com- 
plication. The phrase crept in, I conceive, from verse 14, as 
there is otherwise resemblance enough to suggest such an assi- 
milation to a copyist. But on a closer inspection the difference, 
as we have seen, is great, especially if we are to read "thy wife* 
Jezebel." The sin of fornication or adultery here is symbolical 
of that wicked commerce with the world, which is in the same 
relation to the Christian or the church, as intermarriage with a 
Canaanite would have been to an Israelite. To eat idol-sacrifices 
sets forth communion with what had a direct link with the 
power of Satan ; for " the things which the Gentiles sacrifice 
they sacrifice to devils, and not to God;" and it is an easy 
thing, little as men may think it or Christians may estimate 
aright its enormity, to have fellowship with devils. 

Besides the leading corruptress and fountain-head of the 
mischief, we have two classes of persons mentioned who were 
guilty in a positive way. There were Christ's servants whom 
she deceived to illicit commerce with the world, and there were 
others who were the immediate offspring of Jezebel, " her 
children." With each one the Lord would deal according to his 
works. He was the righteous Judge, and man as such must 
be judged, and all, saints or sinners, must be manifested before 
His judgment-seat. Yet it is remarkable how the Lord avoids 
* But see the preceding note. 

54 "THE rest" or remnant. 

saying that the saints will be judged. "I will give," says He, 
"to you, to each according to your works;" and so in chapter 
xxii. 12, and many similar scriptures. On the one hand we are 
positively told that the believer shall not come into judgment 
(for John V. 24 means judgment, and not "condemnation," 
however certainly this is the result of it). On the other hand 
we know from Eev. xx. 12, 13, that the wicked are to stand 
before the throne, and to be judged, each one according to their 
works. Their resurrection is one of judgment (and in effect, of 
condemnation) contrasted with that of the righteous, which is 
a life-resurrection. Thus it is certain, that if put on my trial 
for salvation or perdition, according as my works deserve, I 
must be lost, for I have sinned and have sin ; yet is it equally 
sure that the Lord is not unrighteous to forget the work and 
labour of love, and so He will give to each one according to his 
works. Christ Himself, Christ's love, is the only right motive 
for a Christian in anything; but there are rewards for those who 
have suffered for Christ and been cast out for righteousness' or 
for His name's sake. 

The remnant comes out with great clearness in the next 
verse. " But to you I say, the rest (or "remnant;" omitting the 
words "and unto," which have no right to be here) in Thyatira" 
(verse 24). Here we have a faithful few, who are called " the 
rest," distinguished from the mass in Thyatira. The Lord had 
been speaking of His servants who had been seduced to dally 
with the evil of Jezebel, and of her own children, for which 
last class there was to be no mercy from Him. Then another 
class is addressed, the remnant, or "you that remain." The 
corrupt exterior body goes on, and there is a remnant that the 
Lord now had specially in view. He supposes them to be igno- 
rant of what Christendom then counted knowledge, and only 
says, " as many as have not this doctrine, who (on-tvcy, such as) 
have not known the depths of Satan (as they speak), I put upon 
you no other burden: but that which ye have hold fast till I 
come" (verses 24, 25). These "depths of Satan" they had not 
known. They valued no knowledge which undermined the call 
to holiness. The fear of the Lord is the bcuinning of wisdom ; 
and this beginning at least they cherished; and they were right. 


It might seem but insignificant ; but they had kept clear of a 
great evil, and holding their little fast, they would surely have 
their reward when the Lord comes. There were those who 
suffered much for Christ, who witnessed for Him in these dark 
ages. Such were (if not the Albigenses) the Waldenses and 
others. " You, the rest in Thyatira," I take to refer to these per- 
secuted companies, who held tenaciously what they had from 
God, mainly practical piety and religious ways. They did not 
know much, but they were a remnant separated in conscience 
and suffering from the evil around them, especially from Jezebel. 
Their comfort lies in no promise of amendment to the church, 
but in a hope outside all on earth, even the kingdom and coming 
of Christ in person. Meanwhile they are called to overcome 
and keep Christ's works unto the end. 

There could not be a more admirable sketch in a few words 
than what we have here. And it is not a little remarkable that 
the book of the Eevelation was much prized by these saints. 
Indeed this has always been more or less the case in times of 
persecution : not that it is the best motive ; for the book is 
valued most when the Lord leads His people to wait for His 
return. But His tenderness to His sufferers in a dark day is 
most sweet ; and what a promise ! — "And he that overcometh, 
and he that keepeth my works until the end, I will give him 
authority over the nations," &c. (verses 26, 27). What the 
mediasval church arrogantly and wickedly sought, the saints 
then persecuted or despised are yet to possess in the coming 
and kingdom of their Lord, and these hopes accordingly are 
here brought in as their suited objects. The guilty church was 
not more cruel towards the true saints than ambitious of power 
over the world. Things ecclesiastical had got to their grossest 
j)oint. But it is good to wait for the Lord's way and time : He 
is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. When the earthly 
power has been put aside and judged, those who have suffered 
with Christ shall reign with Him. But He adds more than 
authority over the nations, and ruling them with a rod of iron 
.... as Christ also received of His Father. " And I will give 
him the morning star" (verse 28). Is not this blessed? not 
merely association with Christ in the day of His power, when 


the stronghold of men shall be broken to shivers like the 
vessels of a potter, but "gathering together unto Him" before 
that day. The hope abides in all its fulness, and as fresh as at 
the first. Christ only could so speak and act. 

The sun, when it rises, summons man to his busy toil, but 
the morning-star shines for those only who sleep not as do 
others — for those who watch as children of light and of the 
day. We shall be with Christ doubtless when the day of glory 
dawns upon the world ; but the morning-star is before the day, 
and Christ not only says, " I am ... . the bright and morning 
star," but " I will give .... the morning-star." He will come 
and receive His heavenly ones before they appear with Him in 
fdory. May we be true to Him in the refusal of present ease, 
and honour, and power ! May we follow Him, taking up our 
cross and denying ourselves daily ! He will not forget us in 
His day, and He will give us ere it comes the morning-star. 

I would here add, in closing this sketch of Eev. ii., that 
Thyatira has a sort of transitional place, being linked with the 
three preceding churches as on church-ground, whatever the 
corruption allowed which characterized its public state. On 
the other hand, it is connected with the three churches which 
follow on the ground of truth or testimony (not regularly eccle- 
siastical), both as being the first of those marked by the change 
of position in the call to hear, and as also expressly running 
down to the end. The others were transient phases. This 
begins the more permanent states in view of the Lord's advent. 
It may be noticed accordingly that the dealing after Thyatira, 
when threatened, falls on the angel: up to this it had been 
either on the candlestick, as in Ephesus, or on the evil-doers, 
as in Pergamos and Thyatira. Smyrna and Philadelphia have 
a special exemption, one in each of the two series. To the 
angel of the church in Sardis the word is, " I will come on thee 
as a thief;" when similar language was used in a former case, 
Christ said, "I will fight against them," &c. ; "I will cast her" 
and " I will kill her children," &c. In the latter series it is a 
question of a separated witness in Christendom, where fidelity 
is everything, as with the disciples in the Gospels. Judgment 
must fall on the whole, tliough not without distinguishing tlic 


true-hearted. In this new part (with a sKght exception in 
Sardis, which is necessary and only proves the rule) the titles 
of Christ are distinct from those seen in the opening vision of 
chap, i., and point to His future reign. This is seen with special 
emphasis in Laodicea, so that "the things that are" may vanish 
away thenceforth, as in fact they do. 




It may be assumed that any discerning reader will perceive 
that we are entering upon an entirely new order of things in 
this chapter, or, at least, a sort of fresh start. What was de- 
scribed in the vision of Christ walking in the midst of the 
candlesticks is not here as in chap, ii., unless it be the " seven 
stars," no longer, however, held in His right hand. It is quite 
true that what we have been looking at in the former chapter 
may still exist and be verified at the same time with new features 
as they are brought out here. Not only may there be points 
morally like what we have seen in Ephesus, Smyrna, or Perga- 
mos, but a continuing public state like the evil depicted in the 
message to the angel of the assembly in Thyatira, which goes 
on to the end in a way that differs from its predecessors. We 
find in Sardis another condition, and one which answers to the 
general state of Protestantism after the Reformation. We have 
not so much open evil, like idolatry and the other horrors that 
have been described before ; but now we have a more correct 
outward form and orthodox aspect of things. As the four 
churches in the second chapter follow on consecutively, and 
describe the state of tilings before the rise of Luther, &c., so 
Sardis describes what followed the Reformation, when tlie glow 
and fervour of truth and the first flush of blessing had passed 
away, and a cold formalism had set in. 

The way in which the Lord presents Himself is wonderfully 
suitable. " These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of 
God and the seven stars" (verse 1). This is a new point of 
view in which to see Christ. In chapter i. " the seven Spirits " 
were distinct from His person and connected with the throne. 


The seven Spirits of God refer to the Holy Spirit of God, 
viewed in His various perfections and the ways in which He 
works ; and this not so much in the church as towards the 
world. In chap, v., when the churches are done with, the Lord 
Jesus is described symbolically as a Lamb as it had been slain, 
having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits 
of God sent forth into all the earth — the Holy Ghost as acting 
with a view to the government of the earth. It is not the Holy 
Ghost in all the fulness of the blessing into which He brought 
the church in its unity or dwelling there. It is the expression 
of the Spirit in fulness of quality and power to make good God's 
will on earth. 

But whatever might be the condition of the church, the Lord 
Jesus possesses the complete power of the Spirit of God, and 
at the same time fulness of spiritual authority. There were no 
two things more separated than these at the time of the 
Eeformation. There was then a large body calling itself the 
church, which claimed the power of settling everything, as 
being the spouse of Christ, No wonder that the claim of 
infallibiLity was strongly advanced ; for assuredly those who 
assume irresponsible authority as Christ's vicar to settle the 
affairs of the church, to define doctrine, &c., ought to be in- 
fallible. This body had wrought for ages, gathering influence 
for itself ; but at last the struggle came, and it was proved to 
be a mass of the greatest evil against God and His Son that 
had ever been congregated on the earth. There might have been 
true saints of God in it at the worst of times ; and even from 
an early day some excellent men had even helped to give the 
see of Eome a false and absurd authority. St. Bernard himself 
sanctioned the persecutions of the Waldenses. 

But God can turn such lessons to our profit. For it is well 
to bear in mind that there cannot be a greater fallacy than to 
abide in what is wrong merely because we find true saints of 
God there. Indeed the great aim of Satan is to gain all by 
getting good people to do bad things. When at last the crisis 
arrived, and men rose up in a considerable part of the world 
against this frightful evil, there ensued a divorce between the 
two thoughts of ecclesiastical authority and spiritual power. 


Instead of its being a body that claimed both, in derogation and 
in spite of Christ's rights, everything ecclesiastical fell into dis- 
order, and men fell back on the power of the world in order to 
gain freedom from the dominion of the Pope. 

Thus Protestantism was always wrong ecclesiastically from 
the very beginning, because it looked up to the civil ruler as 
the one in whose hand ecclesiastical authority was vested ; so 
that if the church had been under Popery the ruler of the 
world, the world now became in Protestantism the ruler of the 
church. It is not a question of church and state that politicians 
may discuss ; which is a great deal too narrow and low a ques- 
tion for a Christian. There is but one thing satisfactory — to be 
in the path of Christ, giving honour to Him. 

" I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, 
and art dead." This describes the cold and formal ways of 
relio'ion that were found after the Eeformation among those that 
were not really Christians. The Lord Jesus shews what He dis- 
approves of in Protestantism. Why not be thoroughly Christians ? 
It was a poor thing to boast of not being as bad as Jezebel ; it 
was death if not abomination. 

In Protestant lands there is ordinarily a measure of truth, as 
there is still more commonly liberty of conscience. But the 
object of God is not merely to deliver either from gross evils, or 
from mistake in detail, but that the soul should be right with 
God, and should allow the Lord to have His way and glory in 
the Christian assembly — liberty for the Lord to work by the 
Holy Ghost according to His will. When He is allowed His 
rifht place, there is the blessed fruit of it in love and holy 
liberty. It is not a human liberty derived from the power of 
the world that we want (though God forbid that we should 
speak a word against the powers that be in their sphere), but 
the liberty of the Holy Ghost. It is the sin of Christians to 
let the powers assume a false position in divine things. The 
Lord Jesus touches the root of the whole matter in the way in 
which He presents Himself to the church of Sardis. Whether 
it is spiritual power or the outward authority flowing from it, 
the Lord claims it all as belonging to Him. In Ephesus it was 
said that Ho held the seven stars in His right hand, and walked 


in the midst of the seven golden lamp-stands ; but here are 
united the two things, inward spiritual power, and outward 
authority. He hath the Spirits of God and the stars. It is not 
said here that He holds the stars in His right hand, but only 
that they are His, as well as the fulness of spiritual com- 
petency ; still less is He said to be walking in the midst of the 
lamp-stands. It is an assertion of His rights, not of their 

In the great mass of Protestant churches they gave up, as it 
were, the regulation of the stars into the hands of the powers 
that be. On the other hand, the persons who revolted from 
that fell into the sad evil of suffering the church to have the 
stars in its own keeping. There is not such a doctrine in the 
whole scripture as either the world or the church having this 
kind of authority in its own hands. The Lord Jesus has still 
all under Himself He has not given it up. Therefore let the 
church only own what He is, and He will act accordingly. 
When there is faith to look to Him in His place as Head of 
the church, He will assuredly supply every need. If He listens 
to the simplest cry of His lambs, does He not enter into the 
deep need of the church ? Is it not an object near His heart 
and affecting His moral glory ? He took His headship of the 
church only in heavenly glory, and He went on high not merely 
to he, but to act, as Head. What is the character of His func- 
tions in this respect ? He exercises authority, having persons 
to act under Him here below. Thus the existence of rule and 
gift in the church of God is the result ; and these are not 
touched by the ruin of the church. The Lord, anticipating the 
time when there would be a revolt from under the spurious 
authority of the body calling itself the church, and foreseeing 
all the confusion that would be the result, presents Himself as 
the One who is superior to it all. Whatever may be the con- 
dition of things here, strength is in Christ : and we can never 
find strength in looking at the condition of the church, but at 

When the apostles were here below, they were empowered to 
act for Christ in a very special way ; but when they were taken 
away, the real source of the power in which they had acted 


suborJinately to Christ was not dried up; the Lord Jesus has it 
all in His own keeping still. There was a name to live, but 
real death. He was speaking of their condition as a body, and 
not as individuals. "Be watchful, and strengthen the things 
that remain, which were about to die : for I have not found thy 
works perfect [tilled up] before my God." Here we have again 
a very striking feature of what took place in Protestantism. In 
the desire to escape from the abuse of works by the Eomish 
system, it is evident that Christian practice lost its due place in 
the minds of many — its place for those who have been brought 
nigh to God. For God does look for a real separate and distinct 
path to be taken by His people ; and He finds fault with Sardis 
because of their failure in this. The saints of God even in 
Thyatira were commended of God for their earnestness, in spite 
of all evil. Their last works* were more than the first. Pro- 
testantism has weakened the idea of obedience, under the plea 
of "no perfection," either in the church or in the individual. 
Thus there has been a lowering of the just criterion wherever 
Protestantism has prevailed: but our God looks for perfection as 
the standard His children should judge tliemselves by — I do 
not say attain. He has grace to meet failures ; but it is quite 
another thing for persons to settle down in self-complacency, 
from not having the divine standard before their eyes. The 
Lord always goes back to this. 

It is better, in seeking to have that standard before us, to fail 
in carrying it out, than to succeed ever so much, if we gave it 
up. For what does the Lord most value ? The heart that wants 
to please Him. The child may come to its father and saj^ " See 
what a pretty thing I have been making;" but if the parent 
had told him to do something else, he would ask the child, " Is 
that what I desired you to do V The Lord has His own will, 
which meets us in our first need as sinners awakened, and is 
the source of our very salvation. But it is far I'rom the natural 
thought of the heart, which dislikes subjection to another's 
will. It is but part of the lie of the enemy. The will of God, we 

* I am fur from tliinking the Romanist idea of works sounder than their 
depreciation of faith. The remnant in Tliyatira, viewed mystically, were not 
Romanists, but persecuted by Jezebel. 

NOT THE individual's NEED. 63 

know, was that which accomplished our sanctification, through 
Him who said, " Lo, I come to do thy will." In Eom. x. the 
apostle puts our part of the matter in contrast with Jewish 
feeling. They thought, if they accomplished as much of the 
law as they could, that God was merciful and would make up 
the rest; but the apostle shews that subjection to the righteous- 
ness of God is salvation. God's will is the very spring and 
power of our blessing, not only in the matter of forgiveness, 
but all the way through. Take God's ways in the church. 
These were subjects that were particularly neglected at the 
. Eeformation. Individual truth, such as justification by faith, 
was brought out forcibly and over a large field. But this was 
made the great point and aim of everything, and the conse- 
quence was that people never knew thoroughly they were justi- 
fied. The moment one makes one's own blessing the one or chief 
object of research in the Bible, never can anything be known 
aright ; but he who receives God's thoughts and objects is 
sure to know directly that he is saved and blessed indeed. He 
cannot look at the cross of Christ without seeing at the same 
time his utter ruin, and his complete deliverance in the resur- 
rection. If a man hesitates whether he is so very bad as God 
declares, he has to wait before he enjoys the riches of His grace; 
but if he trust himself unhesitatingly in God's h-ands, there is not 
a blessing that does not flow abundantly. We find ourselves to 
be as bad or worse than Israel, and then we are brought inside 
a circle of goodness and mercy superior to any thing they ever 

At the Reformation all this was comparatively lost sight of; 
and, in escaping from the fearful net of popery, men fell into 
the sin of putting church power into the hands of the civil 
magistrate. Others again, who avoided this evil, made what they 
considered a true church to be the depository of this power ; 
whereas it is Christ Himself still working by the Holy Ghost 
who maintains His own lordship, a truth which is taught at 
large in the epistles. Supposing a person labours as a pastor 
or a teacher, from what authority is he to act? Apostles 
or their envoys did choose those who had to do with local 
matters ; yet wherever it was a question simply of ministry in 


the word there was no appointment from the first. Even in 
the case of choosing a successor to the vacant seat of Judas, 
the apostles did not themselves elect, but threw it out of their 
own hands into those of the Lord. (Acts i. 24.) And when the 
Lord afterwards chose another apostle, we find " one Ananias " 
indeed sent to baptize him; but there was no idea of that 
disciple, or any one else, making him an apostle. In what we 
have afterwards (Acts xiii.), i.e. the case of hands being laid on 
the apostles Paul and Barnabas, it was not a bestowal of any 
orders or mission, for it was done by men inferior to themselves 
in point of spiritual gift and power; but was simply their 
brethren commending them to the Lord before they set out on 
a particular missionary tour to the Gentiles. We have a right 
to look for the Lord to maintain His authority in the church. 
In all ages we find Him helping His people in their need, and 
doing His work by His servants. If a person wants to preach, 
he naturally thinks he must have the warrant of some autho- 
rity ; but if we seek an authority at all, we should have a com- 
petent one. Although there may be more respectability in the 
world where these outward credentials are looked for, the ques- 
tion arises, Does the Lord require authority to validate a person's 
preaching the gospel ? The apostles did appoint elders and 
deacons ; but these might or they might not be preachers and 
teachers : their being deacons was another thing altogether. 
Philip was a preacher of the gospel, but this depended on his 
having a gift from Christ as the Head of the church, and 
not on his being one of " the seven." Men have slipped into 
habitual departure from God's principles ; and this is called 
" order," because it is the most prevalent custom now in the 
professing church. Yet when we thus give up true principles, 
we slip into wrong practice. The Lord attaches great importance 
to our owning Him as the One who has all ]")ower and authority 
in His own hands. The moment we recognise this, it so much 
the more binds the conscience. If one knows a thing to be wrong, 
the conscience is held to it. One may not be able to see at once 
what is tlie right ]"»ath to take ; but to cease from what is evil 
is evidently tlie first step, and it is imperative. 

The connexion between the end of the second verse (" I have ■ 


not found thy works perfect before God") and what follows 
(" Eemember, therefore, how thou hast received and heard," &c.) 
is to be remarked. He recalls them to what they had received 
from God Himself at the first. No such thoucjht is allowed as 
that because things are not as they were then, therefore every 
church has a right to form its own laws. If it would be down- 
right rebellion to say, because the Queen does not live in 
Ireland, that therefore the Irish people were at liberty to make 
what laws they pleased, it is as bad or worse if we think that, 
because things are changed, the apostles gone, and confusion 
come into the church, men are left free to desert the word of 
Christ and do their own wills : the Lord has left us His. The 
very word of God which tells me what I once was, but that I 
am washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord 
Jesus and by the Spirit of our God, this same portion enters into 
all questions of the assembly, and the working of the Holy 
Ghost in it by whom He will. (1 Cor. xii.) There may be no 
tongues, or gifts of miracles, and healings ; but is the Holy 
Ghost here ? What He continues to do is according to the same 
principle and presence as at first, tliough in a very different 
measure of power : else we have no divine rule in these things. 

Eemark that the Lord's coming is spoken of just in the way 
it was threatened on the world. (See 1 Thess. v.) " If therefore 
thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a tliief" (verse 
3). He would come upon them when they were not aware — 
suddenly and unwelcome. Had they not got into the world? 
Let them then beware of the portion of the world. If you have 
taken the world's ease, you must needs dread the world's judg- 
ment. Such is not the way in which the Lord speaks of His 
coming to the church. In reality and in all the extent of the 
words, it will be upon the professing mass, and not upon real 
believers, that the Lord will come as a thief 

" But thou hast a few names iu Sardis which have not defiled 
their garments ; and they shall walk with me in white : for they 
are worthy. He that overcometh, he"^" shall be clothed in white 

* The Alexandrian and Paris uncials with a fair support from cursives, and es- 
pecially from versions, read ovrwe "thus ; " but the Basilian, Vat. and Porphyrian 
uncials, and most of the juniors with some versions read ovTog. Cod. Sinaitic, 



raiment" (verses 4, 5). The Lord brings in this suited comfort, 
that as some in Sardis had sought to act faithfully on earth, 
they sliouhl walk with Him in white. As they had maintained 
real personal purity liere below, they should appear in full 
justification of their ways bcibro God above. But this is spoken 
of individually. The state of the church as a whole was beyond 
question worldly, and as such it should be judged. 

The moment a person ascertains that his association is con- 
trary to the word, he should feel how grave that fact is, and 
consider what is due to the Lord. It might seem incredible, if one 
did not know the fact, that there have been and are men of God, 
guides of the Hock, who not only abide in evil which they know, 
but seek to find a palliative in the circumstances of a righteous 
Asa or a godly Jehoshaphat, who nevertheless did not remove 
the high places. Alas ! that the solenni vevelations of God 
should be thus perverted so as to serve the ends of the enemy, 
and that a repeated warning should be tortured into a justifica- 
tion of sin. " The light of the body is the eye : therefore when 
thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but 
when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take 
heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness." 
It is not enough to correct thoughts, and rest there ; but if the 
Lord has given a judgment, is it not in order that the walk may 
be correspondent ? Satan contrives to make the path of the 
Lord ai)[)ear dark and satl ; as he colours a worldly course with 
the semblance of humility, order, and the like. lUit the word 
makes all plain now, as ])Ower will by and by even lo the world. 

Miiy we walk with the Lord now, and surely we shall walk 
with Him in white hereafter ! Instead of a blotted name, ours 
He will cojifcss before His Father and the holy angels. 


Tlu! tone of the ei»istle to riiiladelphia must, I think, confirm 
the idea presented as to Sardis, that in this portion ("Rev. iii.) 

gives tho former first, and then corrects it Ly tho latter, and perhaps by the 
orif^iiial Hcribo. Kxternally thoroforo the Lahmco is nearly even. But in tho 
oldtr MSS. especially tho interchange of o and to is so conunon as to make their 
ovidonco in such cases of slight value. Internal consideration greatly inclines 
in my oj)inion to ovrot;, as in tho text. 


we have not so much the early church, or that of the middle 
ages, but what is found, or is developed, in modern times. 
Sardis is the beginning of this : a state of things not marked 
by flagrant evil, but by one sad and fatal characteristic — it is 
negative. Any fair persons, who have thought deeply on what 
is called Protestantism, must know that this is the sorrowful 
thing which we, who have been Protestants and thus share its 
shame, have to acknowledge. Men stand up too much, at least 
too self-complacently, for certain controversial points, which 
hide in a great measure their own wants and failures ; they 
pride themselves on keeping apart from certain evils, such as 
the supremacy of the Pope, the infallible authority of the 
church, the worship of the Virgin, saints, and angels, the 
doctrine of the mass, purgatory, &c. Suj^posing the most 
rigid orthodoxy as to tliese, there might be a thousand evils 
of another character, yet, together with outward correctness, 
the heart be thoroughly away from the love and honour of the 
Lord. This is precisely what we saw in Sardis — a name to live, 
but yet dead. As in Israel, when the Lord was on earth, the 
old idolatry had passed away, the unclean spirit had left the 
house, and had not returned ; so the swept and garnished con- 
dition of the house answers to that which followed the Eeforma- 
tion. But we must distinguish between that and the work 
which God gave the Eeformers to do. Let none speak dis- 
paragingly of these men, whether Luther or others. But while 
God was working in that great movement, it would have been 
better and holier if they had left earthly governments to their 
own proper functions. No doubt their patrons spared them 
persecutions and secured them honours, which, instead of help- 
ing on God's work, proved a great hindrance. And so, when 
the fervour of first zeal had passed away, the state of things 
corresponds with Sardis. 

In Philadelphia we have something totally different. The 
first thing that strikes us is not what the Lord does or has, but 
what the Lord is Himself. If there is anything that delivers 
from mere dogma, with all its chilling influences, it is, I appre- 
hend, the person of the Lord appreciated in any special way. 
And this is seen in the epistle to Pliiladelphia. The Lord here 

F 2 

68 Christ's person in view. 

presents Himself personally more than in any other of these 
epistles. It is true He is said to have the key of David ; but 
before anything appears about this, He says that He is the Holy 
One and the True. In the other epistles we do not find the 
Lord characterised in the same moral point of view. This is, 
in my opinion, what grace has been making good in God's chil- 
dren during late years. The impulse given to evangelization by 
the spread of Bibles and missionary efforts has marked it out- 
wardly; but inwardly the sense of ruin has been used of the 
Spirit to lead the saints to the word, and hence to a fuller appre- 
ciation of the person of Christ-^the only oliject in which we can 
rest, through the Holy Ghost, as He was God the Father's when 
He walked on earth. 

There is something very beautiful in the way in which the 
grace of the Lord operates, after the epistle to Sardis, which 
was in a dead worldly state. Christ made Himself known ; 
and He is the resurrection and the life. And what can give 
new life, put the church in its proper attitude, or bring a 
remnant to the walk and sentiments which become a time of 
ruin, but the Lord presenting Himself personally? This is 
characteristic of John's Gospel ; the person of Christ in His 
rights, not only humbling Himself to death, but baptizing with 
the Holy Ghost, in the activity of gracious power which is 
suitable to His glory. The first portion of it brings His person 
before us ; the second, the other Comforter, whom the absent 
Lord was to send down from heaven. It is beautiful thus to 
see the place that John's Gospel has in the scriptures of God. 
It was written very late, the last of all the gospels, and suited 
to a day of declension. There is no question of Jerusalem or 
of the Jews, as the immediate object of God, even in the way of 
testimony. They are noticed as a people outside, whom God has 
nothing to do with for the time. Hence the Lord speaks of the 
pa.ssover as a " feast of the Jews," and so on. In Matthew, on the 
contrary, there is the recognition of Israel for the truth of God. 
The boar out of the wood may wvaste, and the beast devour, but 
it is Israel's land still ; and Jerusalem is called the holy city, 
even in connexion with Christ's death and resurrection. In 
John all that is at an end. Not only had Jerusalem and th(> 


Jews forfeited all claim upon God, having departed from Him 
as Jeliovali, and the law and the prophets, but they had rejected 
Christ; yea, and when the Holy Ghost came, they rejected 
Him too, and would not listen to Him any more ; so that there 
was no resource. God had manifested Himself in every possible 
way. No manifestation of God, where man was under law, 
could do any good. Individuals laid hold of God's grace all 
through, but the nation was under law. The Gospel of John 
starts from this point, that all was darkness, and there the True 
Light shines though the darkness comprehends it not. In Him 
was life. This ever remains true, though He may deal judicially 

But to return to these churches : there had been declension 
from first love, suffering from heathen power, Satan tempting 
through the power of the world, Jezebel seducing to idolatry, 
and, in short, every kind of evil commerce with the world, with 
persecution, but now we find a modern state — outward clean- 
ness, but the heart given up to itself. (See 2 Tim. iii.) Sardis 
gives us this picture : some walking purely, but there was no 
such thing as the heart thoroughly subjected to the Lord. But 
will He be content with this ? The Lord must raise up a wit- 
ness for Himself ; and the only way whereby He makes a person 
an adequate witness for Himself is by presenting Himself to the 
affections. The moment we see the Lord Himself, there is 
strength to serve Him with gladness. 

Here the Lord, disgusted with the state of Sardis, comes, as 
it were, saying, " I want to have the heart, and must have it." 
He removes the vail brought in through the sin of the profess- 
ing church. When they see that Blessed One, so to speak, a 
little nearer, there is a state that answers (but oh how feebly !) 
to His desires for their heart, which will be made good without 
fail, when we shall see Him as He is. 

" Thou hast a little strength." It is not the way of God to 
produce great strength at a time of general ruin. At the era of 
the return from the Babylonish captivity, the Lord wrought in 
great grace. There was no outward power; on the contrary, 
they were so apparently contemptible, that it was the taunt of 
their enemies that a fox could jump over their wall. But we 


find the same sort of spirit as in Philadelphia. They build no 
fortification to keep out the Samaritans ; the Lord was a wall of 
fire round about them ; but the first thing they erect is an altar 
to Hiiu. The Lord was the first object of their hearts. If He 
was their wall, they could afford to wait before building another. 
There was no such thing as the angel smiting the first-born, no 
miracle wrought on their behalf, not a word about plagues on 
their enemies ; but " my Spirit remaineth among you : fear ye 
not." Whenever Israel were afraid of their adversaries, they had 
no strength ; but in looking to the Lord they forgot enemies. 

When we lean on Him now, it strikes more terror into the 
hearts of those who are against Him than anything else. When 
the heart is true to the Lord, it tells upon the conscience of 
others. What joy that the Lord's heart is toward His people ! It 
is this which produces proper feelings toward Him and toward 
one another. The very name of this church is significant of the 
relationship which He had established; but it is also important 
to remember that it is a holy relationship we bear to one 
another. While it is certain that those who care for one 
another's heavenly interest will not be careless otherwise, still 
the church is not a club, where men must be ready to help on 
each other, right or wrong. This would be Chartism or any 
thing rather than the brotherhood of the Lord. 

The first words are the key. " He that is holy, he that is true" 
(verse 7). Look at the first Epistle of John. The expression is 
not often used about the Lord, but we find it there. In the 
second chapter of that epistle, speaking to the little ones of the 
family of God, it is written, " Ye have an unction from the 
Holy One, and ye know all things." He that is Holy, He that 
is true, has all for tiieni. There might be weakness, but He has 
the key of David. In the genealogy of our Lord in ^Matthew 
we find the expression, David "the king," not Solomon the 
king, or any other ; because David is the person who first cha- 
racterized royalty in Israel. He was the man according to 
God's own heart. As long as David walked in faith, no diffi- 
culties could stand in his way. True, the type was imperfect : no 
type reaches the mark, because it is not Christ, though it may be 
a witness of Him. W^c see the failure of the man ; but where the 


power of God wrought in David what was bright, and blessed, 
and good, we have the germ, as it were, of that which we see 
fully in the Lord. "The key of David" represents administra- 
tive power, the means of access to whatever he possessed. 
Thus it is said (Isa. xxii.), "the key of the house of David will 
I lay upon his shoulder ; so he shall open, and none shall 
shut," &c. This was the consequence ; he who had it had all 
things under his hand; and it was his business to take care of 

The Lord presents Himself as having the key of David. 
Therefore they ought not to look to the power of the world, 
nor to man ; for if He had the key, it was the very thing they 
wanted. The energy of man might be at work all around, 
Jezebel, false prophets, &c. ; but there was this Blessed One, 
the Holy and the True ; and so much the more needed, because 
they were weak. They had so little strength that, perhaps, they 
could not even open the door ; but He says that He had opened 
it for them ; He had brought them into a large place where 
there was no such thing as bondage or constraint. It is plain 
that the Lord is here marked according to what He is personally 
and morally ; not only as the great source of holiness and truth, 
but as the Holy One and the True. We find the latter also in 
the first Epistle of John. " We are in him that is true, even in 
his Son Jesus Christ ;" but there lie goes farther still, " This is 
the true God and eternal life." Thus then we have the Lord's 
person brought before them : it was what they coveted. They 
valued Christ. They wished to know more of Him; and He 
knew their heart. So it is said, " If thine eye be single, thy whole 
body shall be full of light." They were tried by a mere form 
of godliness ; they knew it was as possible to be lost or to dis- 
honour the Lord in orthodoxy as in the world. They turn to 
the Lord, and He presents Himself as the Holy One and the 
True ; not as against them, but full of tenderness and grace, 
putting before them an open door, and giving them the certainty 
that no man could shut it. 

" Thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast 
not denied my name" (ver. 8). Here we have three expressions 
concerning them. They are in a state not marked by outward 


note or strength. Like Himself, they are unknown to the 
world, but they had kept His word ; and more than this, they 
had not denied His name. Consider what it is to keep Christ's 
word. It is evident there had been a departure from His word. 
It might have l)een circulated ; but had it been cherished ? Had 
it been loved and sought into, as for hid treasure 1 Was it for 
this thing that men met together to pray and read — that they 
might understand it better ? What a movement in advance for 
the church, where the Lord's person becomes more than ever the 
object, and the word as His word ! It is not mere evangelization, 
blessed as that is in its place, and in its effect on the world. 
But here it is the inner circle of the saints, who love, serve, 
and adore Christ for Himself. 

In this epistle we also find the great value of the name of 
the Lord Jesus. In 1 Cor. i. the address is not to the Corin- 
thians alone, but "to all who in every place call upon" that 
name. In other words, the first Epistle to the Corinthians is in 
no way, more than the second, of private application, but for 
all Christians everywhere. In fact the generalizing address is 
not put so strongly in any other ; and tliis, perhaps, because the 
Spirit of God foresaw that, more than any other, it would be 
set aside. In these days, when there is no extraordinary mani- 
festation of power, men might say. It is not for us, it belongs 
to a day that is bygone. True, it is of no use to talk of regu- 
lating tongues, if you have not got them. But we liave the 
Holy Ghost, and, blessed be God ! the church will never know 
the day when it will be without the Holy Ghost. Look at its 
darkest hour — the middle ages, Eomanism, &c. The Holy 
Ghost was always there, not indeed justifying evil, or putting 
His seal upon disobedience, but He was there for the certainty 
of faith, according to the Lord's word, "He shall abide with 
)'ou for ever." The idea of looking for the Holy Ghost to be 
poured out again on us is utterly wrong. Such is the Jewish 
hope. For the church to make such a petition is in effect to 
deny that it is the church. It may be well for us to throw 
ourselves down before the Lord, and own that we have acted as 
though we had it not. But let us bless God that we have the 
Spirit, nut only dwelling in individuals, but binding us together 


for an habitation of God. The manifestation of this is broken, 
it is true, but the fact remains ; just as we say of a man whose 
circumstances are bad, that he is a ruined man, while the man 
still exists. This gives us ground for humbling ourselves the 
more ; that the church had the Spirit and yet went wrong. 
Men might say, If we had a Pentecost now, and the Holy 
Ghost sent down again, we should go right ; but the fact is 
that, when they had the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, 
they declined and fell. What God calls upon us to do is, not 
now to wait for fresh gifts of power, but to humble ourselves 
before Him, because we have gone, even as Christians, in the 
saddest opposition to His will. Alas ! though the Holy Ghost 
dwelt there, one golden calf after another has been set up, till 
there is as much sin as was in Israel. This is what the Lord 
calls us to feel. The sympathies of the Philadelphian saints 
were with Him. 

Clearly then what the Spirit presents is a despised company, 
but the word of Christ specially prized, and the Lord's name 
maintained. We have learned that the church is never bound 
to go on in sin. " Let him that nameth the name of the Lord 
depart from iniquity." There may be moral iniquity and 
worldly lusts ; and what is there so bad as church iniquity, 
except that which is against the person of Christ Himself? 
If a man perseveres in violating the outward order of the 
church, it is evil, but not to be compared with sin against the 
Lord Jesus personally. This is the worst evil (2 John 7), and the 
test of souls. The first of all duties is that the heart should be 
true to Christ. God looks for it. The Father will have Him 
honoured Himself 

Here then we see Christ bringing Himself out personally to 
the church, and this not with a general expression of love, but 
manifesting a special attachment of His heart to them. Hence 
it is said, "J have loved thee." The Lord loves all His people, 
but it is equally true that He has special affections. There may 
be a peculiar link between Him and saints at particular times 
of danger and trial. His grace removes the hindrances and 
makes it to be enjoyed in its strength. They know His place 
in glory, but that which touches their hearts is that He loves 

74 nis WORD, 

them in all that glory. His love is the great basis and spring of 
their love. 

"Thou hast a little strength." He knows they are weak; 
but they have " kept my word and not denied my name." See 
here the personal links — " my word," and " my name." The name 
of Christ apprehended by the soul is salvation ; but it is much 
more ; it is all. When the heart is brought down to submit to 
God's judgment of its sin, He Himself brings before that soul 
Christ's name ; when it finds that it has no name in which to 
stand before God, He says. Here is a name, My Son's name. 
Faith supposes a man giving himself up as a good-for-nothing, 
and saying, " God has been good to me, when I was only bad 
for Him." God has laid down this name as a foundation-stone 
for the poor sinner. It looks weak ; it is called a " stumbling- 
stone," as it is to unbelief ; but I ought to believe in it. If I 
merely look at the gospel, I am lost, because then I reason 
about it ; but if I believe it, I am saved. What did Abraham 
do ? He did not reason; he considered not his own body which 
was dead, but he gave glory to God. If he had felt strong, he 
might have sought glory to himself This is one practical aim 
that God etfects, that we may know our own nothingness. 

But is this the only use of Christ's name ? No : He assembles 
round Himself Jesus is the great object and attractive point 
to which the Holy Ghost gathers. Suppose it were the question 
of a person coming in who holds what people call Calvinistic 
views or Arminian, never having learnt fully the ruin of man ; 
you may say, " We do not like to be troubled." But the test is, 
what does the Lord say ? Has He no power to judge that 
question ? Has He delegated it to our discretion ? The Lord 
has named His name over that saint, and I am therefore to 
receive him. Another comes and says, " I hear you receive all 
Christians ; but I do not believe tliat Christ was exempt from 
the fall, either in His nature or in His relation to God." " No," 
we reply, " you cannot use the name of Christian to dishonour 
Christ." But wherever a man is found liumbly confessing the 
name of the Lord (whether he be churchman or dissenter, that 
is not tlie point), we are bound to receive him. It is sorrowful 
that the church should have these names of variance : they will 


all be at an end by and by. But we must not gainsay the name 
of the Lord now. Wherever it is heard it becomes a passport 
all over the church. It is no question of joining us : he who 
is joined to Christ is indeed joined to us. True, the Lord has 
His servants ; but we do not acknowledge any one as a centre 
in the church but Christ. 

A further use of the name of the Lord is in discipline. What 
is the object of discipline ? Not to keep up our character, but 
that His name should have its just place and honour, keeping 
it bright even where Satan's throne is. In the very camp of the 
enemy there is a name that cannot be put down. The Holy 
Ghost is there, not merely to give us comfort, but, having 
delivered us from anxiety about our own sins. He leaves us free 
to care for Christ and to serve Him. The question in the 
maintenance of discipline is. Is there departure from iniquity ? 
The Lord never acknowledges anything as the church where 
iniquity is sanctioned. There is a difference between sin 
detected there, and the sanction of sin when detected. Any 
iniquity may break out ; it did in the apostolic churches. The 
man was put away at Corinth because he was a Christian (as it 
is said, "that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord 
Jesus"). It might be thought, from the terrible nature of his sin, 
that he could not have been one. The Holy Ghost shews us 
thereby that if a Christian slips away from Christ, he is capable 
of anything except positive indifference to Christ Himself 
From this I think the Holy Ghost would always keep ; as in 
the case of Solomon's judgment, the false woman was determined 
at all events to have her half of the child, while the real mother 
would rather yield it than let its life be touched. But a Christian 
may fall into a cold state of feeling about Christ, unnatural as 
this may seem; and when in this state, so as not to have a just 
sense of the name of the Lord, what good can be expected of him ? 
It was not so with the Philadelphian saints. They did not deny 
His name; and the Lord uses the tenderest expressions of ]f)ve 
towards them. All ecclesiastical pretension, it has been well 
said, was against them. They were quite despised by those who 
said they were Jews. But He says of them, " I will make them 
come and worship before thy feet," &c. (verse 9.) They were 


in the midst of a great deal of profession that was hollow. But 
the Lord promises to vindicate them by His own power. What 
comfort there is in not seeking to vindicate ourselves, but in 
ffoins on with the Lord ! 

It is of the utmost importance to see that the name of the 
Lord will never oblige a man to choose between two evils ; and 
this is, in my judgment, what God has been pressing of late. 
There is a path without evil. Not that the flesh of man may not 
bring in evil ; but if a man persists in any sin, you say he is 
not walking as a Christian ; he cannot be owned as a Christian, 
though we pray for him. Again, take a company of Christians. 
Evil comes in. We cannot say, " These are not Christians." No, 
but bring in the authority of the Lord's name to put the evil 
away. He having absolute authority, it is ours to take the 
place of full subjection to Hiui. The church belongs to God. 
If it were ours, we might make our own rules ; but woe be to 
the man that meddles with the church of God, bringing in his 
own regulations ! This was, it would seem, what was felt by 
these Philadelphians. They valued the authority of the name 
of the Lord. They avowed that they were weak, but they 
knew that the power of Christ was strong enough to keep them. 
Why should they be afraid ? When Christians own His name 
as a gathering centre, it is not said that evil will not come in ; 
but looking to the power of the Lord Jesus and His Spirit, we 
do not mean to sanction evil. Let us only leave the door open 
for the Lord to come in. There may be much to try our patience ; 
but what we have to do is to wait on the Lord. This is what 
the Lord seeks — that we should have confidence in what He is 
and has, taking the place of weakness and dependence in prayer, 
however much we may be tried. 

It is of great interest to note here the re-appearance of the 
Catholic system at this point. It developed itself first in its 
fulness in the era of early heathen persecution under the fathers 
so called — the Smyrna period. (Compare chapter ii. 9.) Now it 
conies up again, the enemy's counterfeit, the real antagonist of 
the testimony of God in our own day. But the Lord will compel 
them yet to recognise where the truth is, and where the Lord's 
approving love rests especially. " Behold, 1 will make them of 


the synagogvie of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, 
but do lie" (ver. 9). These claimed to be exclusively the cove- 
nant people ; others (in particular those meant by the assembly 
in Philadelphia) they regarded as outside, unworthy of a name 
save of contempt. For this it is which tries the saint, not per- 
secution from open external enemies as also in Smyrna. The 
boasters in tradition, antiquity, priesthood, order, and ordinances, 
shall yet be forced to acknowledge those they desj)ised as the 
beloved of the Lord. Fidelity to Him, however feeble, is pre- 
cious in His eyes. 

In Pergamos they kept His word : here they did more. 
" Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will keep 
thee from the hour of temptation" (ver. 10). In these churches 
the Lord evidently looks forward to a state of things up to the very 
close. It is plain that, as the hour of temptation is still future, 
room is left for the application of this promise up to the end. 
This is not His word only, but of His patience. Christ is coming 
to receive His church, and afterwards to be the Judge of all the 
earth. But we are not looking for signs. God will graciously 
give signs to the Jews, but the church was never called to be 
guided in its thoughts by what it saw, like Thomas. " Blessed 
are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." It was 
wdien the Lord was no longer seen that the church was born 
into the world ; and since then the church is waiting, but was 
never meant to depend on outward tokens. It was when He 
took His place above as Head that His body, the church, was 
formed ; for there could not be a body except there were first a 
head. God would have the church waiting not for signs, but 
for Christ Himself He will cause His voice to be heard, and 

the dead in Christ shall rise and so shall we ever be with 

the Lord. Christ is waiting for this patiently. As far as I 
have noticed, the Lord does not speak about His coming as if 
there w^ere any haste connected with it. He w^aits patiently for 
it. He lingers in His love, that there may be a lengthening of 
mercy to the world, and that souls may be brought to Him. 
The church knows that He is Avaiting, and is called to the same 
patience — to have fellowship with Him in His patience. 

"I will keep thee from the hour of temptation" (verse 10). 


This is not tlie portion of the Jews. To them, when the time 
of trial comes, God says, " Come, my people, enter into thy 
chambers." (Isaiah xxvi.) Ours is the place of Abraham. He 
had not to fly to a little Zoar like Lot, who was saved indeed 
out of the judgment, but not much to his honour. The Lord 
had a heavenly-minded saint, as well as an earthly-minded one. 
Abraham was not in the sphere of that temptation at all. So 
the church will be kept from the coming hour. This is our 
confidence — not merely preserved in or through it, but " from" 
it. Take another figure — that of the deluge. Enoch had been 
translated to heaven before the flood, while Noah was carried 
through its waters. Thus God gives us blessed witnesses 
from the beginning of the two-fold preservation, like Enoch 
and Abraham in spirit on the one hand, and on the other like 
Noah and Lot. These last were in the circumstances of the 
trial ; and this will be the case with the converted remnant of 
Israel during the time of the dreadful judgments. The Chris- 
tian's hope is to be with the Lord in heaven, and the church 
ought to be looking for it. Assuredly the cry is now going forth, 
" Behold the Bridegroom cometh ; go ye out to meet him." 

Let me ask, have you gone out ? There were those who not 
only believed when they heard the cry, but went out. Have 
you left everything that is contrary to Him ? — what you know — 
not what I know — to be contrary to Him ? Ask yourselves 
whether you are ready to meet Him : if so, you need not be afraid. 
Be assured that anything the will of man wants to keep is not 
worth the pains. It is gain to go out from all to meet Him ; 
it is joy to be in the path of His sorrow. Has this reached 
your heart ? Do not be content with saying, "I have got oil in 
my vessel, and it does not matter where I am." What more selfish 
and unholy? The Lord grant that such may not be your feeling! 
He has saved me that I may think of Him. He wishes me to 
go out to meet Him — to value the precious hope of His coming. 
Are you then keeping His word ? Do you not know ? This is 
a question between your own conscience and the Lord. When 
you have kept what you do know, you will learn more and find 
it the truest liberty ever to serve Him. 

" I am coming quickly : hold that fast which thou liast, that 


no one take thy crown" (verse 11). This is a precious word. 
The Lord spoke of coming like a thief even to Sardis, which 
had taken the world as its mistress, and allowed the nnpurged 
to govern in place of the Lord. Here He comes as one that 
has a crown to give. The Lord Himself coming to meet us is 
the jewel He has given us to keep. May He grant us to hold it 
fast, that it be not taken from us ! 

We are indeed weak now, but the Lord says, "If you are 
content to be weak now, I will make you a pillar in the temple 
of my God." A pillar is the emblem of strength (that which 
supported the temple) contrasted with weakness. It is a hard 
thing to be content to be weak. To flesh it is comfortable to 
feel the world's strength under one. But if willing to appear 
what we are now, the Lord tells us what He will do for us 
then : " I will make you a pillar in the temple of my God " 
(verse 12). As I have known my God, I will bring you into 
fellowship with me. You were content to wait for my coming, 
and none shall take your crown. For those who have thought 
of Christ now, Christ will provide all the joy He can give them 
then. The Lord grant that this may be our comfort while w^e 
wait for Him ! We may for Christ be outside all that looks 
strong and orderly. In that day we shall go no more out, but 
enjoy the most intimate association with Christ, be a pillar in 
the temple of His God, and have the name of His God and of 
tlie city of His God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and His new 
name described on us. 

Weak as these were they took the place of weakness ; and as 
they had thought of His word and of His name, the Lord says. 
When I have you in my temple, I will write upon you " my 
new name," and will make you a pillar "in the temple of my 
God." He does not say the throne, which would be the ex- 
pression of power, but the temple, which is another thought 
from the throne. The temple is the place of worship, where 
God is exalted in the beauty of holiness. Just so, when it was 
a question of the worship of God, David wears an ephod. His 
own wife despised him (she was looking at him as the son-in- 
law of her father Saul the king) because he did not come out 
in some robe suitable to royalty : but David had the thought of 


God before him, and in his eyes it was his greatest possible 
exaltation to wear the ephod, and so to serve Jehovah and 
rejoice in His goodness who deigned to be in their midst. 

So the Philadelphians seem specially those who entered into 
worship, because they appreciated the person and character of 
the Lord Jesus. It is this that draws out the heart. Thus when 
Jesus revealed Himself after giving sight (John ix.), the blind 
man paid Him homage. Worship is little enjoyed in general 
even by real children of God. A man might receive favour 
from God, and give thanks heartily for it, and yet know little 
of worship. This is a higher step and nearer to Himself. It 
does not merely appreciate the favours that come down to us 
from God, but what tlie God is who gives them. Eeal worship 
is always this. The Father seeks worshippers, but it is to draw 
them back to the source from which the grace has flowed. Not 
that the word worship is used in the address to Philadelphia, 
except in verse 9, where it is in quite a different sense, merely 
signifying that the men, wlio were now scorners, would have to 
humble themselves and give honour to those wliom they had 
despised. Worship is the drawing near to God in the appre- 
ciation not only of what He does but of Himself There is this 
which always prepares the way for worship — the full and simple 
knowledge of our being brought near to God as weU as of the 
work of Christ and its blessed results for us. 


We have already noticed the strong contrast between the 
state of Sardis and the previous order of things. Gross cor- 
ruption, open evil, persecution, hatred of the holiness and 
truth of God, false prophets liad reigned in Thyatira, tliougli 
there was a remnant found there, and a faithful remnant. If 
Thyatira represents the dark ages, when the Lord had His faith- 
ful saints hidden away in nooks and corners of the world, in 
Sardis we have a correct appearance of things — a name to live, 
and death almost universal; yet even in Sardis there were those 
who had not defded their garments. If there is so marked a 
distinction between Sardis and Tliyatira, there is an etiually 
strong line of demarcation between Pliiludelphia and Laodicea. 


" To the angel of the church in Laodicea," not " of the 
Laodiceans." (So, as to the first, it should be " the church in 
Ephesus." Rev. ii. 1.) 

Let us look at the character that God gives of this church, 
and what He brings to light of its condition. If there are two 
churches that stand in more pointed contrast to one another, it 
is surely these last. The reason, I think, is this ; that when 
God works in any special way, wlien He puts forth His grace 
in some new form and light, it always, since the slipping aside 
of Christendom, draws in its train a peculiarly dark shadow. 
So we saw in Philadelphia a bright picture. They were weak, 
but they were to depend on Him in peace ; for the Lord had 
023ened the door, and He would keep it so. Christ was all their 
confidence, in contrast with the pretentious religionists who 
appear at the same time claiming to be the people of God with 
no care for Christ. The church should have been by the Holy 
Spirit a real testimony to the new creation, of which Christ is 
both the only source and the bright exemplar. But it had 
wholly failed and never so much as in this last phase. For 
when we come to look at Laodicea, what a difference we find ! 

Does the Lord here speak of waiting upon their need, having 
the key of David, and presenting Himself as the object of their 
affections — as the holy and true One, in His moral grandeur, 
which called out all the heart to worship Him ? Does He not 
now speak in another tone ? " These things saith the Amen, 
the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of 
God." The end of haughty profession was at hand. He was 
the "Amen," the only securer of divine promise, the solitary 
" faithful and true AVitness," when all else had failed. This pre- 
sentation of Himself supposes that those to whom He was 
writing were utterly faithless and had revived the old things 
which had been buried in the grave of Christ. Even a saint 
like Job was not in the presence of God when he was thinking 
so much about himself. (" When the ear heard me and the eye 
saw me," &c.) We may say he was in the presence of himself 
and not of God. It is always a poor sign if we see a man stop 
to look at himself, whether his good or his bad self Even if 
converted, why should we thus dwell on the change in ourselves ? 



This is not to forget the things that are behind (which does not 
mean, by the way, our sins, but our progress) : if the Lord has 
given us to take a step forward, it is that we may get nearer to 
Himself, and increase in the knowledge of God. Along with 
this there will always be increase in the knowledge of ourselves, 
but never in the way of self-admiration. As belonging to Christ, 
He is the object that happily keeps us low. When Job was 
brought at the close really into the presence of God, he was 
in the dust. He did not know what it was to be thoroughly 
nothing before God till he was brought there, and his eye saw 
Him. Before, he had been looking more at what God had pro- 
duced in him, but now he saw himself to be as dust. After 
this we fmd him even praying for his friends, and we have 
burnt-offerings. This was the spirit of intercession and worship 
too. It appears to me that such was the spirit into which the 
Philadelphian church had been brought. They understood 
worship, because they in their measure knew Him that was 
from the beginning. The Lord loves us to be strong in Christ, 
growing up into Him in all things. 

In Laodicea there was no such thought — nothing like an en- 
trance into the riches of the Lord's grace. There is nothing we 
ought to feel our lack in so much as in worship, just because 
we do value it. It is spiritual feeling, thougli feeble indeed, 
that makes us alive to our little power of worship. Be assured 
that the spirit of worship is our true power for service. Thus 
in John x. the Lord says, " I am the door : by me, if any man 
enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and ou^, and find 
pasture." It is no longer the Jewish sheepfold and the bondage 
of the law, but perfect liberty, going in for worship and out for 
service, everywhere finding food and blessing. How sweet to 
think that the time is coming when we shall go in, never to 
come out more ! It will be always service in immediate coji- 
nexion with the Lord Himself — enjoyment of the presence of 
God and of the Lamb — eternal worship. And let me again 
ask, for whom would this be a welcome and happy promise ? 
For those who hnd valued and enjoyed worship here below ; as 
in Ps. Ixxxiv., "They will be still praising thee." Tlie place 
where the Lord dwelt was graven even in the liearts of those 


going there — "in whose heart are the ways." They felt that 
they must get where God was, and there they dwell. 

The Lord does not reveal Himself in the same personal way, 
and still less ecclesiastically; but certain qualities and titles 
belonging to Him are taken up, which reach out from what 
He had been for God to that which links Him with the new 
scene in which He is about to be displayed as Head over 
all. This cannot fail. He was " the Amen, the faithful and 
true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God." They had 
failed in everything, they had been unfaithful witnesses ; but 
He as good as says to them, "You have not met a single 
thought of my heart. I will now present myself to you as all 
you should have been." He was also " the beginning of the 
creation of God" (verse 14). Christendom is at its beginning, 
certainly from apostolic days, a rejected witness. Christ is in 
relationship with the new creation. 

" I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot" (verse 
15). This is latitudinarianism. It is not ignorance that works 
this deadly mischief, but the heart remaining indifferent to the 
truth, after it has been fully brought before it. Such an one 
does not want the truth, because he feels the sacrifice and the 
separation from the world which must ensue, if it be really 
followed. We ought to bear, wherever there is unw^illing 
ignorance ; but indifference to truth is quite another thing, and 
hateful in the sight of the Lord. 

Thus latitudinarianism is never the condition of souls that 
are simple-hearted, but of those by whom the truth has been 
heard and who are not prepared for the cross. God's truth 
must put people's hearts to the test. It is not merely some- 
thing I have to learn, but I am proved. If the sheep is in a 
healthy condition, it will hear the Shepherd's voice, and not 
even know the voice of strangers ; but if the sheep strays 
after others, it becomes so confounded that it may cease to dis- 
tinguish the well-known voice. This arises in Laodicea, and, as 
it would appear, from despising the testimony given in the 
former church. Laodicea is the fruit of the rejection of the 
special truth that formed Philadelphia. There He shewed Him- 
self, and assured each heart that received Him, that as His name 

G 2 


was everytliin^^ to us on earth, so Tic will give us His new 
name in the time of glory. Every affection that has been 
spiritual, all that the Lord wrought in our hearts, shall come out 
more 1 nightly in heaven. To Laodicea He says, "Thou art 
neither cold nor hot. They must have had some stinmlant, as 
the cold was not absolute. They were not honest. Laodicea is 
the last state of decay, which the Lord could net allow to 
go on any longer — a time when persons have had a great deal 
of truth in a certain fashion, but their souls not touched by 
it. If the heart had been in ever so little a measure true, even 
though ignorant, it would have enjoyed all that came from the 
Lord. In 1 John ii. the persons who are said to have an unction 
fi'om the Holy One, and to know all things, are not the "fathers" 
(who of course had been thus anointed also) but " the babes." 
The ability to judge what is not of Christ depends on the heart 
being true to Him. Hence the youngest saint, if single-eyed, 
can discern with certainty, where the theologian is lost in end- 
less genealogies. 

Every spirit that confesses not but denies Christ (the Christ 
of God) is of antichrist. There were, there are now, many anti- 
christs, and the place to look for them is where He has been 
named. If Christ had not been known, there could not have 
been an antichrist, which was the dark shadow that followed 
the truth. As surely as the Lord works in His gracious way, 
Satan is at "work too. To be " lukewarm " was to be false with 
the ])retension of the trutli ; and the Lord says, "I will spue 
tlicc out of my iiioiitli." Tliore is not such a contemptuous 
ex])ression iised by 11 im anywhere else that I know. This is 
sensibly dil'ferent from the dealing with Sardis, Avhere the 
general judgment ol' rrolcsl autism is given, — judged like the 
world, and the Lord coming as a thief. Is this the Avay that wc 
nmasure things ? We should have said probably that Jezebel 
was to be fcilt most about ; but would it have struck us that to 
be luke\\arm was the worst of all ? Yet this was what drew 
forth all the Lord's indignation, and He only is wise. 

" Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods," 
&c. (verse 10). Here is a plain }>roof that they had heard a 
great deal about the truth. They thought themselves rich. 


Learning and intcllectualisni in religion they counted a prize. 
It' tliese grow (at least in extent, even though not in deptli), 
what ground for satisfaction ? The spread of the outward know- 
ledge of God is what hastens on the last crisis — God's final 
judgment and setting aside of all that hears His name falsely 
and self-complacently. They had sought man and the world, 
which promise much to the eye. But this is no righteous judg- 
ment ; for nature thus allowed in the church is so much loss, to 
the utter exclusion of what is divine and heavenly — the real 
and bitter impoverishment unto all true riches. This the Lord 
proceeds next to lay before the angel. Absence of discernment 
follows. "And knowest not that thou art the wretched, and 
the miserable, and poor, and blind " (ver. 17). This was because 
they had rejected the testimony of God. His testimony always 
produces the sense of being nothhig, but it never weakens 
confidence in Him. There may be tests, — the Epistles of John 
are full of them ; but there never is such a thought as the 
Spirit leading a believer to doubt God's being for him. He may 
and surely will work in a soul that is slipping aside from the 
Lord to bring him back ; He may make us feel our weakness ; 
but it is not at all His way to produce a doubt of the truth; and 
it is ever a sign of the ilesh being at work, " lusting against the 
Spirit," when we give way to distrust. The Spirit of God always, 
wherever He is, aims at making a man thoroughly humble 
himself, judging and renouncing the folly of the flesh. There is 
and must be reality and truthfulness in God's presence. 

Laodicea says, " 1 am rich, and am become rich, and have 
need of nothing." But we luive the Spirit of God pronouncing 
this to be carnal presumption, the heart knowing not its need, 
and refusing grace. There had been momentary warmth, which 
made it so hateful to God. ]3ut this is just what men are doing 
who talk about the church of the future. The early times they 
call the infancy of the church ; afterwards the church became 
overgrown and haughty: and now they are looking for a church 
of the future, when it will be no longer subject, but will act 
for itself — will act like a man. Alas ! wliere will not these 
aspirations end? For God will be left out of the so-called 
church, and His authority got rid of 


This is working now extensively. And are God's children 
lukewarm ahout it? about God's tnitli being shut out? Ke- 
nieniber wliat the Lord here says, " I will spue thee out of my 
mouth." It would be a grave mistake to suppose that there 
were no good men among them. It is no question however of 
individuals, but of the assembly : as such the Lord said He 
would spue them out of His mouth. People cannot congregate 
in large masses without Laodiceanism as the result, if it be not 
also the spring. Popularity is one thing; quite another the 
Spirit of God gathering souls to Christ at the present time. 
The Lord be thanked if there are a few gathered out to His 
name ! Let God's children remember that they must answer 
to the Lord Jesus, whether they are represented by Laodicea or 
not; wliether they are living for Christ, or for what merely bears 
His name as a vail over indifferentism. 

Yet the Lord does not give them up. He says, " I counsel 
thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire," &c. (verse 18.) Gold 
is used as tlie symbol of intrinsic righteousness in God's nature, 
or divine righteousness; and white raiment or linen stands for 
the righteousnesses of saints, as we see from chapter xix. 

Divine righteousness had slipped from their thoughts. They 
were neither appreciating tlie righteousness of God, which a 
Christian is made in Christ, nor the practical righteousness dis- 
played before men, whicli the Spirit leads in. So He counsels 
them to buy of Him the true gold, and white raiment that 
there might be the holiness that became them before others. 
" Anoint thine eye with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." There 
was the secret — the lack of unction from the Holy One. They 
did not see anything properly, not even their need of divine 

"As many as I love I rebuke and chasten; be zealous, there- 
fore, and repent" (verse 19). Depend upon it that this is the 
Lord's voice for the present moment. Here alas ! it was what 
the Laodiceans needed. The Lord is dealing with Plis people ; 
He constantly puts before them something to humble them in 
their thoughts of themselves : He does not tell them to do 
or try something new, but calls on them "to repent." He 
does )iot ask them to stretch their wings for some greater ilight 


in the future, but to see where they are, and to confess their 
failure. But this is irksome to the light self-complacent heart. 

The call to repentance here, however, as in Sardis, differs 
greatly from that in the message to Ephesus and Pergamos, 
where all were thus urged on penalty of the Lord's solemn 
chastening, whether general or special. Thyatira had here too 
an intermediate place : " I gave her space to repent of her 
fornication; and she repented not." Hence the threat of judg- 
ment followed, and the vast change ensued in all its extent. 

It is a far higher thing to suffer for Christ and with Christ 
than to be active in doing. When the Apostle once asked, 
"What shall I do?" the Lord answered, "I shall shew thee 
what great things thou must suffer." This is what the Lord 
specially prizes — not mere sufferings as men, but sufferings for 
Christ. " If we suffer, we shall also reign with him." 

Here they were persons as sunken as they were proud, called 
upon to be zealous and repent, to humble themselves before 
God on account of their condition. Yet the Lord utters a 
gracious word, " Behold, I stand at the door and knock" 
(verse 20). Is it not a solemn thing that the Lord should be 
there, thus taking the place of one outside? Nevertheless He 
was ready to come in where He found a soul true to Him. " If 
any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to 
him," &c. Need it be said that this is not an address to the 
world in order to be saved ? In John x. the Lord presents 
Himself in full grace, saying, " I am the door, by me if any 
man enter in, he shall be saved." But here He speaks thus 
to the church. What a solemn position ! How utterly fallen 
now ! What ought to be the enjoyed portion of all the church, 
whether in approaching God or in display before men, or in 
the communion of Christ, is proffered in pure grace to him who 
hearkens and humbles himself before the grace of the Lord. 
He certainly had no sympathy with their self-satisfaction. 
He stood outside, knocking at the door, if perchance there 
should be a heart within, not too much occupied with the 
things and the persons around, that would open to Him. To 
such He says, " I will come in to him, and sup with him, and 
he with me." But it is all individual. In presence of the 


gravest departure, are we to say, " there is no hope " ? Not so ; 
for the Lord is standing at the door and knocking. There may 
not be many to answer His call, but some will ; and the promise 
is, " To him that overcometh will I give to sit down with me 
in my throne ; even as I also overcame, and sat down with my 
Father in his throne." 

It is a mistake to suppose that this is comparatively a glo- 
rious promise : we are apt to think so, because we naturally 
value display. But God does not estimate things thus. His 
holy love, proving itself divine most of all when Christ humbled 
Himself, in coming down to man and dying for him — this is 
the standard of value, rather than power or glory. He could 
make a thousand worlds with far more ease than He gave His 
Son to suffer. I do not question the grace of such a word, 
spite of such evil ; but our sharing the kingdom with Christ is 
not the most blessed thing we shall enjoy. And the promise 
here does not go farther. What we have and shall have in 
Christ Himself is much more precious. Yet is this a portion 
with Christ. In John xvii. 23 the Lord shews that the display 
of glory is for the vindication of Himself before the world. 
All the glory disclosed in the future will be the proof to the 
world, that they may know that the Father loves us as He 
loved His Son. But we are entitled to know it by the Holy 
Ghost now. We do not wait till then to know the love that 
has given us the glory — a deeper thing than the appearing to 
the world, or thrones in the kingdom. The personal affection 
of the Lord to His people is a better portion than anything dis- 
played before men or angels. 

Here the Lord closes the churches. He had reached the last 
phase. The wisdom of God has provided in these chapters not 
so much deep truth as what requires conscience : this rather 
than great ability is what we are to understand. The need for 
guidance is the eye fixed on Christ. Besides these epistles being 
messages to local churches in the name of St. Jolin, we have 
seen in them a sketch of the whole history of the cliurch till 
the Lord comes. For properly speaking, the Lord's addresses to 
the churches themselves or their angels constitute " the things 
which are" or the actual state in John's day. Tlie addresses, 


while primarily connected with the facts then existing, go 
far beyond them, and reach out into a prolonged moral appli- 
cation, till there is no longer any recognised assembly, the last 
(though with mercy to individuals) having been summarily 
rejected as a public witness by the Lord. After that we never 
hear of the churches any more upon the earth. On the con- 
trary the curtain drops, and we have a new scene altogether. 
The seer no longer turns round to see who spoke behind him 
on earth,* but hears the same voice above, whither he is now 
invited to ascend. The government of the world from the 
throne in heaven, its accompaniments and consequences, are 
the things which follow, when the church's time-state is closed. 
After this we have individual saints both among the twelve 
tribes of Israel and out of all nations mentioned as such, but 
this only makes the contrast more striking. Henceforward, if 
specified at all, they are named as Jews and Gentiles, because 
there was no longer any thing of the nature of the assembly of 
God upon earth : for the very meaning and essence of the 
church is, that there is neither Jew nor Gentile, because all are 
one in Christ. 

In the detail of these seven epistles there is also abundant 
practical instruction. It is true that the Spirit addressed them 
to the churches ; but " he that hath an ear " is expressly en- 
joined to give heed ; and this to the challenges of the Lord sent 
to them all. Such application, however, falls more fittingly 
within the domain of ordinary ministry in the word. 

* The chief opponent of the future or rather protracted application of the 
Apocalyptic epistles, draws from the local direction of the voice that, according 
to a mode of interpretation then prevalent, the visions ahout to be shewn would 
refer to events yvt future and behind, in the course of time. [Mora Apocalypticce, 
5th edition, vol. i. page 70.) If there be any truth in that interpretation, 
it strongly confirms thi future bearing of the seven addresses. But it is certain 
from Rev. iv. 1, that when the purely prophetic visions are about to begin, the 
speaker's voice is above, not behind. What the turning to the voice behind in 
chapter i. really shews is, that the prophet's eye was forward, as it were, in the 
direction of the kingdom, and that he was recalled to take notice of the churches, 
" the things which are," as justifying the Lord in His setting aside of Christen- 
dom in order to the introduction of His kingdom in power, when patience shall 
no longer be demanded. For the Lord will create new heavens and a new earth : 
first, in a partial preparatory sense — the millennium ; and then fully and finally, 
the eternal state. The church state is thus emphatically treated as present time. 


It may be well, now that we have gone over the ground of 
the Apocalyptic epistles, to notice the objections urged against 
the larger view of their meaning by Bishop Newton. " Many 
contend, and among them such learned men as More and 
Vitringa, that the seven epistles are prophetical of so many 
successive periods and states of the church, from the beginning 
to the conclusion of all. But it doth not appear that there are, 
or were to be, seven periods of the church, neither more nor 
less ; and no two men can agree in assigning the same periods. 
There are likewise in these epistles several innate characters 
which were peculiar to the church of that age, and cannot be 
so well applied to the church of any other age. Besides other 
arguments, there is also this plain reason ; the last state of the 
church is described in this very book as the most glorious of 
all, but in the last state in these epistles, that of Laodicea, the 
church is represented as ' wretched, and miserable, and poor, 
and blind, and naked.'" {Newton's Works, vol. i., p. 549, edition 

Now it is plain that " it doth not appear " is rather an as- 
sumption than a proof. Why does it not appear ? Anotlier 
might urge the same objection, and perhaps with quite as much 
weight, against the seven seals, trumpets, and vials. God has 
been pleased to specify in each of these instances seven salient 
points, so to speak, as His complete account of each. "The 
main subjects of this book," the Bishop had just before remarked, 
" are comprised of sevens, seven churches, seven seals, seven 
trumpets, and seven vials, as seven was also a mystical number 
throughout the Old Testament." If this answer satisfy as to 
the seven vials, why not as to the seven epistles ? Doubtless 
more spirituality may be required for right discernment in the 
latter than in the former case ; because one series relates to 
external judgments in the world, whereas the other series takes 
cognizance of such remarkable spiritual conditions, good and 
bad, in the history of the church, as it seemed good to the Lord 
to notice. Hence a 2Ji'^ori one might be prepared for a greater 
divergence of judgment among Christians in their adaptation of 
Rev. ii. iii., than in their views of any other parts of the book. 
If there had been therefore a considerable measure of truth in 


wliat he says, tlie general principle would still remain undis- 
turbed. But this is not the case. There is a striking agreement 
as regards the first three or four churches. This of course is 
not urged as in the least degree authoritative, but as a sufficient 
answer to the charge of hopeless discrepancy preferred by Bp. 
Newton. Eetort would be easy on the discordant schemes of 
interpreting the seals, trumpets, and vials. 

It is singular, however, that the Bishop bears testimony in 
the next page to the mystical meaning of the epistle to Smyrna. 
For the "tribulation ten days" is there explained of the greatest 
persecution that the primitive church ever endured, Diocletian's 
persecution, which lasted ten years, and grievously afflicted all 
the Eastern churches. Conscious that such an application, not 
in the promises attached but in the body of the epistle, is fatal 
to his own exclusively literal application, the Bishop thereon 
allows that the " promissory or threatening part foretells some- 
tliing of their future condition," and asserts that " in this sense, 
and in no other, can these epistles be said to be prophetical" 
(p. 550). 

But how stop here, once you own, as he does in the Smyrnean 
epistle, a bearing beyond the bare single church in or near that 
age, once you extend its scope to all the East, and its date to 
the beginning of the fourth century ? Indeed, that fierce per- 
secution was not confined to the East; for all the empire, not 
excepting Spain and Britain, was stained with Christian blood. 
If the principle is true in one epistle, why not in all ? And in 
fact was not general declension within as clearly marked in 
Ephesus, as persecution from without in Smyrna ? and does not 
Pergamos portray the corrupting influences of worldly exalta- 
tion, as palpably as Thyatira sets forth the proud unrelenting 
false prophetess of Popery ? 

No doubt the unsatisfactory character attached by our Lord 
to Sardis must be painful and startling to those whose eye is 
filled with ordinary Protestantism and its decent orthodoxy. 
And perhaps yet more distasteful is the sight of another and a 
subsequent testimony, which sets those who bear it in weakness 
and scorn outside the religious world, with the coming of Christ 
their blessed and animating hope. 


But it is plain tliat the picture of the last assembly, in its 
deplorahle lukewarmness and the Lord's peremptory rejection 
of it, was the great difficulty to Bishop Xewton, because of its 
inconsistency with his theory of the last state of the church, 
" described in this very book as the most glorious of all." But 
this is a total mistake. The Revelation never describes the 
church on earth after Laodicea. The glorious description, to 
which the Bishop refers is probably in Rev. xix.-xxi., where 
the entire church is glorified above. In a word this reason is 
plainly invalid. The bride of the Lamb is to reign ; but this 
does not contradict the solemn testimony of the Laodicean 
epistle, that the last state of Christendom here below is to be, 
like that of Israel before it, " worse than the first." The general 
testimony of the New Testament entirely confirms the witness 
borne by this particular part, as appears from Luke xvii. 26-37 ; 
2 Thess. ii. 1-12 ; 2 Tim. iii. 1-5 ; 2 Peter ii. iii. ; 1 John ii. 18 ; 
Jude 11-19. The gratuitous assumption that the last phase of 
the church's condition on earth must be the brightest is then 
clearly opposed to the direct testimony of Clirist and the 
Apostles, as well as to the solemn warning of the Apocalypse. 
How humbling that all this sliould be explained away for many 
souls by the unintelligent reasons we have just disproved ! 
Nor is the evil speculative only, but very great practically ; and 
the danger becomes every day greater for those thus misled. 
For if the soul be taught to view events as gradually moving on 
toward a glorious future for the closing years of the gospel 
here below, it cannot but be thrown off its guard and exposed to 
a loss of discernment in its desire after such a consummation, 
instead of being called to watch as during a long sad night, and 
to judge eacli new move and measure, as good soldiers in an 
enemy's land. And if it be certain that the falling away or 
apostacy is the predicted issue, the means taken for the widest 
development and apparent triumpli of the church on earth, 
must finally at least be but means for consummating that 
apostacy, and a prime object for the Lord's judgment at His 



We are now come to the strictly prophetic part of the book 
of Eevelation. The seven churches formed together what tlie 
Holy Ghost calls " the things which are." And the Son of man 
was seen judging the house of God on earth, represented by the 
Asiatic churches. They existed in the time of St. John ; and 
in a mystic sort at least, they have an existence continuous, 
and to a certain extent successive, as long as there is any 
testimony rendered by the professing body on the earth. If the 
literal application is past, the protracted representative bearing 
still goes on. In chapter i. 19 we were told that, besides " the 
things which thou hast seen" and "the things which are," there 
is a third division — " the things which shall be hereafter." The 
word "hereafter" is vague, whereas the sense intended appears 
to be precise : it should be read " the things which shall be after 
these," meaning what is to follow after the church has come to 
an end on the earth. Its present history closes here, though it 
will have a better existence in heaven, and it will reign over 
the earth too in the day of millennial glory. We then arrive 
at this wholly prophetical portion. Chapters iv. and v. are a 
kind of preface to "the things wliich shall be after these." 
Their great object is to shew us, not events occurring on the 
earth, but the attitude or aspect in which God appears, and the 
place of those who are nearest to Him, during the occurrence 
of these future events, or the crisis of the present age. I must 
here dwell a little on the first of these chapters. 

"After these things I looked, and, behold, a door opened in 
heaven, and the first voice which I heard [was] as it were of a 
trumpet, talking with me," &c. (ver. 1). The "first voice" here 
does not mean the first of the voices that were about to speak. 


as some have strangely thought, but the voice that John had 
ah-eady heard in chaj^ter i. — the voice of Him who had been in 
the midst of the seven golden lamp-stands. It still addresses 
him like a trumpet, no longer from earth but from heaven. 
There was a door there, and the voice spake from thence, so that 
this portion of the book supposes the earth done with for the 
moment, and the scene lies above. It is not merely that saints 
render testimony on the earth, but the voice speaks from heaven, 
shewing the things that should follow the church-condition on 
earth now concluded. " Come up hither, and I will shew thee 
the things which must happen after these things." John is said 
to be immediately in the Spirit (ver. 2) ; that is, by the Holy 
Ghost's power he was rapt and characterised, so as to enter into 
the new scenes he was now to behold. 

"Behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the 
throne. And he tliat sat," &c. God is not named as such in 
this account, save as " He that sat upon the throne." John is 
about to shew us what the aspect seemed of tlie One who sits 
upon the throne, while there is that in God which "no man hath 
seen or can see." This is a representation, in a symbolical way, 
of the glory of God. He may assume any appearance that 
pleases Him ; but as far as He permitted it to be displayed here, 
it was what could be compared to these precious stones. In 
chapter xxi. the bride, the New Jerusalem, comes down " out of 
heaven from God, having the glory of God ; her light [was] 
like a stone most precious, as a jasper stone," &c. It is quite 
evident that this the essential glory of God. It 
rather means, I think, that it was not a human but a divine 
glory. There is in God that which He can confer upon tlie 
creature, and there is that which is incommunicable. Here 
divine glory is meant in contrast with creature glory — not that 
which would derogate from His majesty, but be a reflection of 
it. Her light was like a jasper stone; the wall also was of 
jasper (verse 18), and the first foundation (verse 19).* The 

* The application of the jasper, in the account of the heavenlj' city, seems 
decisively to sot aside the notion that the colour of this stone was intended to 
convey something in the appearance very awful as well as glorious. It is utterly 
out of the question to attribute such a feature to the Ne\t Jerusalem, of which 


^'('iKiral appearance of the city was as it wore of jasper. This 
a Jiitle answers, T tliiiik, to tlie vi(!W we liave in cliai»ter iv. ol' 
what -J(jlin enjoyed of the sight of llini that sat uj)on the; 
throne. In lioni. v. 2 it is said, not only that we have access 
to the grace of God in which we stand, hut that we rejoice in 
]i(i]k; of the glory of God. That glory of liini who sat on the 
tlirone, .as far as it could be viewed hy the creature, was pic- 
sented under the figure of jasper and sai'dius (verse 3) ; and 
when tlie church comes forth in the glory of God, her light will 
1)0 jasper-like. That is, tlx; thought of Cjiod's glory, not man's, 
is the thing conveyed to tlio mind. I^>on in the "et(;rii;d dity," 
there will Vjo no such change as God aljandoning or lowei'ing tlio 
dignity of His own propiir' Godhead; I'or thei'O must aJwiiys lie 
an infinite dilforenco Ijctween God and tlie most exalted of His 
creatures. Still, tluii'o is a res(!iiil)lanc(! l)etw(;en the glory of 
God as seen by m;in, and the elnireh's glory by and hy. And 
this answers exactly to the words of our Lord in the Gosp(;l of 
John fxvii. 22, 2?>): "The glory which thou gavest me f have 
given them ; tliat tliey may be one, even as we ai'o one : 1 in 
th(!m, and thou in me, that tliey may be made pei'fect in one ; 
mid that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast 
hjved them, as thou hast loved me." 

But, besides the appearance of divine glory, there was a rain- 
bow round about the throne. This evidently carries owy thoughts 
back to tlie covenant tliaX God niaih;, not with His poo])l(.' Isnu'.l, 
but with the oaith at ]ai-gc. Th(i covenant with His ]K!0];1(; is 
noticed for the first time in chaptoi' xi. of tliis l>ook, whoni w(! 
have heaven opened and the ai'k of His t(!Stament seen in His 
temple. Tt is not the ikjw covenant itscdf; for wIkju this is 
Inought about, there will be no earthfjuakes, and lightnings, a,nd 
thunders, &c., but the day of peace and blessing for Israel. 
l>ut at the time to which that vision refers, God will shew that 

Iho fifjuro iH uHOfl still more omphatically. T cannot but think, therefore, that 
wo muHt fioarch for a moaning in kooping with hoth, and that tho idea of glory 
and Hplondour hcHt moets all rcquiromontH. 

Far more untonaldo is tho viow that tho jaspor HotH forth tho incarnation. It 
appoarH to mo to fall in with not a ninglo occurronco of the figure; it sets Rev. 
iv. ]i(j])(,'loHHly at variance with ohajitor v., and it would involve, I fear, HorlouH 
iihoriution from wound doctino, if carried out in chapter xxi. 


He has respect to His covenant. Here the rainbow is God's 
remembrance of His covenant with the earth. The ark spoken 
of in chapter xi. is God's remembrance of His covenant with 
His people, God is going to pour forth judgments on the earth 
and on those who had the responsibility of being His people. 
But He takes pains to shew that, before a single judgment falls, 
there is mercy in store. Before He touches creation, there is 
the sign of His covenant with the earth, just as when He is 
forced to pour down plagues on His people Israel, the ark of 
His covenant is seen. The rainbow was the witness that God 
had not let slip His ancient word : He could not forget it. The 
rainbow is the sign of mercy. It spans the heavens, and takes 
in earth and sea, the whole compass of that blessed security of 
which God had hung out the token on high. And now we have 
the rainbow not merely over the world, but round about the 
throne in heaven. This is not its usual place ; but it was com- 
forting for John to see, in the midst of all that bright glory, 
how God wished to fill the heart with confidence. He had not 
merely the vision of what was coming on earth, but in the 
circle of the divine manifestation and power the rainbow is seen 
above. If God shews us His own glory at the same time, the 
rainbow would tell us that God is true — that He was pur- 
posely putting man in mind of His pledge, given after the great 
judgment of old, and the rather as now He set it in this peculiar 
place, where a rainbow had never been seen before, in order to 
assure our hearts. But though peculiar, what could be more in 
character ? For it is the throne of God the Almighty, the 
Creator and supreme Lord of all tilings. 

Perhaps it is needless to remark that no such things will 
happen literally; but the vision was a panoramic sign, putting 
all before the eyes of the prophet — a most lively and admirable 
way of conveying what God meant to teach. When persons 
are once thoroughly founded in His grace, nothing is more im- 
portant than the study of this book. But it may be injurious 
to souls who have not been so established to get absorbed in the 

First, then, we have the throne of One who is the centre and 
source of all the action, God's glory and majesty being set forth 


by the symbol of the jasper and sardine; and next there is the 
rainbow, the familiar emblem of God's faithfulness to creation. 
The rainbow was of a particular kind, " in appearance like an 
emerald" (verse 3). We could scarcely have colours more 
opjDosed than those which represented the divine majesty, and 
the emerald so refreshing for the eye to look upon. The Holy 
Ghost gives us a vivid impression by these simple symbols. For 
this book was not written for great scholars ; it was intended 
for suffering saints. Even by men of the world it has been 
noticed, that the Eevelation was specially the book sought into 
by persecuted Christians; and certain it is that, while those 
who make it a field for human research and speculation go 
wrong here and everywhere else, a general or even bright idea 
would present itself to the mind of an unlettered believer, who 
looks up to God and desires the glory of His Son. 

The first thought suggested to one by the chapter is, that the 
only true j)lace from which to look at the things coming to 
pass after the seven churches is heaven. It is not upon and 
from the earth that we can rightly judge of these events. It 
is from above that we must learn and look ; if we are earthly- 
minded, we shall never understand them. If I am merely on 
the level of the scene upon which the judgments are passing, I 
shall endeavour to make the best of present things, and to put 
off the judgments ; I am not entering in by the door opened in 
heaven. A heavenly standing must be taken as the ground, 
and the only ground, on which these visions can be rightly 

The main object seen is God and His throne — His power 
ruling in providence. The throne is not in itself connected 
with priesthood, but with the power whence divine government 
proceeds. God would establish souls in the thought that He 
governs, even in the midst of all the wickedness that was to be 
developed in the time of the beasts, or the final apostacy. The 
vision is of the throne of One who did not need to be named, 
but who permits His glory to be seen as far as it can be by the 
creature. From His throne above He is dealing with the world. 
Then we have His throne surrounded by the remembrance of 
His covenant with creation. Next, in the fourth verse, the 



prophet sees that, round about the central throne of God, there 
are other thrones. The reason why thrones here are preferable 
to " seats" is, that it is an essential part of the vision to shew 
that the persons seated there were possessed of kingly dignity. 
The same word means a throne and a seat, and the choice is 
only determined by the connexion in which it stands. We 
should not say of a person in humble life that he was sitting 
upon a throne, nor of the sovereign when in state that he was 
upon a seat. We can judge by the subject-matter. 

Around the throne of God then, in the scene of such glory 
as man perhaps never saw before, there are other thrones with 
elders seated on them — that is, those endowed with wisdom 
from on high, who entered into the thoughts and counsels of 
God. They are clothed in white raiment, answering to their 
priestly, as their crowns do to their kingly, dignity. They are 
clearly saints and at home in heaven by glory around the great 
central throne before the world's judgment begins. The number 
of these is twenty-four, corresponding with the twenty-four 
courses of priesthood in Israel. When the forerunner of the 
Lord was to be born, his father Zacharias was a priest of the 
course or order of Abia. In 1 Chron. xxiv. we must look to see 
these divisions, and we find the eighth was the one in ques- 
tion. The priesthood was divided into these courses in order 
that each in succession might take up the work of the priest- 
hood, every course having its own chief priest. The High I*riest 
is not named here : we all know who He is ; but we have 
the twenty-four elders answering to these twenty-four courses 
of priesthood, or rather to the chiefs who represented them 
(verse 4). 

But a deeply interesting inquiry arises : If these crowned and 
enthroned elders represent the heavenly saints, as few will deny, 
when and to what condition does the vision apply ? Docs it 
speak (1) of those who have departed to be with Christ ? Or (2) 
does it foreshadow the manifested kingdom of Christ and His 
saints during tlie millennium ? Now it appeais certain that both 
these questions nmst be answered in the negative, and that the 
time of this chapter iv., and therefore the interval during which 
the elders are thus engaged on high, is after the separate state is 


over, as far as they are concerned, and before the millennial reign 

For (1) it is obvious that the symbol of the twenty-four elders 
implies the sum of the heads of the heavenly priesthood — not a 
part, however large, but the whole. There were just so many 
courses, and no more. In the vision they are complete ; and in 
the reality, which it symbolizes, this can never be the case, while 
the saints are absent from the body and thus present with the 
Lord. During that state of things there will always be members 
of tlie church on the earth. For " we shall not all sleep." And 
when, at the Lord's return, the dead in Christ shall rise first, 
"we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together 
with them, to meet the Lord in the air ; and so shall we ever be 
with the Lord." That is to say, the symbol understood and in- 
terpreted aright requires that all the members of Christ should 
be together and in the same condition; and as this will never 
be true of the separate spirits, it necessarily follows that the 
vision will be realized only when "we shall all be changed" 
and with the Lord. 

But (2) it is clear, that whatever may be anticipatively pre- 
sented in the songs of the elders, or of others who catch up as 
it were the chorus of their strains, both the actions of the elders, 
and the entire heavenly scenery, in which they take so prominent 
a part from Eev. iv. to chap, xix., suppose that the reigning over 
the earth does not arrive as a literal fact till Christ and His 
saints have left heaven for the judgment of His enemies. But 
the full complement of the elders is made up a considerable time 
previously : none can deny they are in heaven before and during 
the seals, trumpets, and vials. The inference is plain. The saints 
represented by them must be as a whole in lieaven before these 
judgments begin to be fulfilled. The millennium does not come 
till Eev. XX.; the elders, shadowing the glorified saints, are with 
the Lord in their changed bodies long before. When He comes 
from heaven to the destruction of the beast, they follow, and 
with Him they subsequently reign for a thousand years. Others, 
I doubt not, will be joined with them in that reign : these will 
not be glorified in their bodies till Eev. xx., having suffered after 
the rapture of the church under the beast, &c. But Eev. iv. 

H 2 


intimates, that the rapture will then have taken place, and that 
the saints caught up are viewed as a royal priesthood, interested, 
as having the mind of Christ, in the trials, sufferings, testimony, 
and liopes of those who succeed themselves, as witnesses for God, 
during the hour of temptation which will then come upon all 
the world, to try those that dwell on the earth. Even for the 
raptured saints on high it is not yet the time for the marriage of 
the Lamb ; and therefore, as well as for other reasons, they are 
here regarded, not as the body or bride, but as kings and priests 
worshipping, and as yet waiting for their manifestation in glory 
when they shall judge the world. 

There is a solemn connexion with this in Ezekiel, where we / 
have twenty-five men named ( Ezek. viii. J. 6) ; and to my own / 
mind it appears that they were the whole of the heads of the 
priesthood — the twenty-four chiefs and the high priest besides. 
But where were they now ? Alas ! they were the promoters of 
the idolatry and wickedness perpetrated in the temple of Jehovah. 
They were there not as those whose raiment told of the blood 
that cleanses, but the corrupters of God's holy standard and the 
defilers of Israel, leading them on to apostacy ; so that, if judg- 
ment is to be inflicted, it must begin with the house of God. 
There is a tacit contrast between the scene here described and 
that in Ezekiel. There we had the living creatures first, the 
symbol of the executive judgments of God — of His judicial 
power putting down evil. The earthly result of the action of 
tliese living creatures, as seen in Ezekiel, might be the destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem ; but this was only what man saw. 

The cherubim and the living creatures (^wa) are the same 
substantially ; they must be carefully distinguished from the 
beasts {d-qpia) we read of afterwards. The first mention of the 
cherubim is in tlie early part of the book of Genesis. (Chap, iii.) 
Wlien sin entered the world, immediately we find them : they 
were the beings to whom the work of judgment was entrusted. 
"Tie placed in the garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming 
sword, to kee]) the way of tlie tree of life." The emblem of 
their power was the flaming sword. Again, if we look at the 
second book of Moses, we find the cherul)im in a new but 
blessed way. Where were they looking ? Within. Had they 


been looking outwards, they would have seen sinners ; had they 
looked under, that is, into the ark, they would have seen the 
law ; but they were looking within on the mercy-seat, where 
the blood of atonement was sprinkled. There was the blood 
that spoke of the perfect mercy of God which had met and 
triumphed over sin; and there was the power of God — both 
combined in preserving the glory of God, and both really for 
man instead of against him. 

If we examine this again in the time of Solomoji, we find 
a remarkable difference. The position of the cherubim com- 
pletely changes, for instead of looking within they are looking 
out, because Solomon's day typifies the time of glory, when the 
true Man and Prince of Peace shall rule. And why should they 
not look out then ? Sin will have been judged, and, instead of 
the goodness of the Believed falling as it were in drops here and 
there, the King shall come down like rain on the mown grass ; 
as showers that water the earth, and the whole earth shall be 
filled with His glory — the just answer to the glory of David's 
Son. When mercy will have had its full way, and judgment has 
been executed, there will be nothing to hinder the cherubim 
from proclaiming the goodness of the Jehovah. 

But in Ezekiel a terrible crisis came. The mercy-seat had 
been despised, and Solomon's glory had faded away. Israel was 
sinning with a high hand, and now the very temple itself was 
the spot where the greatest dishonour was done to God, and 
there the cherubim again as good as ask. Can God have nothing 
to do with this wicked people ? Judgment must have its course. 
Accordingly they leave Israel, though they bring judgment on the 
land. They are only seen again as giving the signal for judg- 
ment, and putting it in force by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. 

We have the same thing in Eevelation, with this difference, 
that in Ezekiel the living creatures are seen more in connexion 
with the earth ; and this may be the reason why they are there 
said to have wheels as well as wings. In Eevelation, the earthly 
people being dropped for a season, and a heavenly people called, 
they are simply seen with the wings suited for heaven, and not 
the wheels suited for earth. From this omission it is easily 
seen that, if God is going to speak about judgment, the very 


form that the executive of His judgment takes tells us that a 
heavenly interruption has come in, ere the world's history is 
resumed. Is it not then of immense importance, if we are to 
view these things aright, to get a firm footing on the ground on 
which the apostle stood — to enter in, as it were, by the door 
opened in heaven? 

But, besides this, " Out of the throne proceed lightnings, and 
voices, and thunders" (verse 5). Evidently this is not the 
throne that we draw near to ; for ours is a throne of grace, and 
this is emphatically of judgment. Its aspect described here has 
nothing whatever to do with grace. There proceeds later on 
from the throne a stream clear as crystal, as in the view of the 
throne mentioned in chap, xxii.; but here "are lightnings, and 
voices, and thunders," &c., expressive of God's terrors. Even the 
symbolic likeness given here of God's Spirit is in keeping with 
it. " There were seven lamps [or torches] of fire burning before 
the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." The Holy 
Ghost does not take the symbol of lamps of fire when God's grace 
to the church is set forth. No doubt on the day of Pentecost 
we have tongues as of fire, a beautiful emblem of what God 
was then about to do ; for it M'as divine force that gave those 
unlettered men to speak in every tongue. On the Lord Jesus 
He descended in the form of a dove ; but this was quite a 
different thing from what we have in Revelation. Here it is 
the consuming power of the Spirit of God. Fire is the well- 
known emblem of the searching holiness of God. The Holy 
Ghost in full perfection as light and as a fire burning up evil is 
the representation that the Spirit gives of His own relation to 
this epoch. It is plain that the reference is not to the millennial 
kingdom, for then a stream clear as crystal is to proceed out 
of the throne of God ; still less would such a symbol apply to 
His action in the body of Christ during the present time. Nor 
is God's throne now one from which proceed lightnings and 

To what period then is the reference ? To a short space 
between the two, when God has done His present church-work, 
and before the millennial glory begins. The present is the time 
when God is gaLliering out His heirs, joint-iieirs with Christ, 


and forming the bride; and now there is a throne of grace, where 
we may receive mercy and find grace for seasonable help. Here, 
on the contrary. His judgments issue from the throne, and the 
Hol}^ Ghost is the Spirit of judgment and burning, just as much 
as the throne is judicial and the source of terrors for the earth. 
Thus then it is neitlier the peaceful era of the millennial glory, 
nor the present display of unbounded grace, but a time between 
tlie two. It is not conceivable for a person to have just light 
upon this book who does not see that the Eevelatiou fills up the 
interval after the Lord has taken the church, and before He 
comes out of heaven and the church along with Him. (Chapter 
xix.) I speak, of course, of the prophetic visions which fill the 
body of the book, and not of the three introductory chapters, 
nor of the close, when the Lord is about to appear. There the 
whole scene is changed ; the heavens are opened to send forth 
the Lord Jesus, for the purpose of putting the last stroke of 
judgment to man's iniquity and Satan's power, and then we 
have the full flow of blessing far and wide. Here we have the 
time that precedes it — an interval of most solemn character for 
the world, when the heavenly saints shall have been caught up. 

"And before the throne there was a sea of glass" (verse 6). It 
is not a sea of water, where persons could bathe, but a sea of 
glass. The Holy Ghost uses the washing of water now by the 
word for the purpose of purging defilement. There was no 
longer need for this in those before the throne. In chapter xv. 
another class is mentioned as standing upon a sea of glass, 
shewing that it is not there a question of the Spirit's power in 
dealing with what is contrary to God, but the victory is won. 
So here all question of the trial of the heavenly saints is over. 
The scene where they had been tried is now closed (Eev. iv.), 
and they are seated round God's own throne. 

Here too are the four living creatures, full of eyes before and 
behind, which are the symbol of discernment ; for though it is 
judgment they have to execute, it is not, we need hardly say, 
unintelligible judgment. " The first living creature was like a 
lion, the second like a calf, the third had the face as of a man, 
and the fourth was like a flying eagle " (verse 7). The various 
symbols are taken from the heads of G 's creation here below. 


and represent different qualities of His judgments : the lion as 
the head of wild beasts, the ox or calf the head of cattle, man 
of intelligent beings, and the eagle of birds. The lion conveys 
the idea of strength or majestic power, the ox of patient endur- 
ance, the man of intelligence, and the eagle of rapidity. God 
shews us the strength, patience, intelligence, and rapidity with 
which His judgments should be executed. The four living 
creatures, having each of them six wings, denoted supernatural 
rapidity, and the eyes within intrinsic discernment (verse 8). 
Some have supposed, chiefly from the nearness of the living 
creatures to the supreme throne, that they, rather than the elders, 
must set forth the church.* But this is quite a misconception. 
The reason, as it seems, wliy the living creatures are thus near, 
is because they are the judicial executive, and providential judg- 
ments will then be in progress. They characterize the action of 
the throne. 

"And they have no rest day and night, saying. Holy, holy, 
holy Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." This 
is a remarkable word. It is not occupation with evil ; but when 
God shews us the means or agencies by which He executes judg- 
ment, we have one unceasing cry as regards Him — " Holv, holy, 

One of the most important features of this scene for the soul 
is that the elders symbolize the heavenly saints in glory, the 
heads of the heavenly priesthood, found in their blessed employ 
above. But observe that when they are seen there first they 

* All admit that the cherubim arc invariable attendants on the throne of God, 
and that they were therefore, when in the most holy place, made of the same piece 
of gold as the ark itself on which Jehovah sat. But it is argued that, though in 
all the Old Testament instances they were angelic, because the law had been 
ordained by angels (Gal. iii. 17), they might become human in the Apocalypse, 
because the world to come is to bo made subject to man. (Hebrews ii. 5.) Thus 
the cherubim and the elders would represent the saints in a twofold aspect, 
active and contemplative. And certainly it is a notable fact, as another has re- 
marked, that before the Lamb appears and takes the book, there are no angels 
mentioned who praise, and the cherubim or living creatures only express or 
celebrate the holy character of God, but are not associated with intelligent 
worship ; whereas, when the Lamb is in the scone, the elders and cherubim 
join in intelligent worship, and the angels are expressly distinguished. But 
more may be said \\lu'n we treat of chapter v. 


are perfectly familiar with the scene : there is no hurry and no 
anxiety. They are peacefully seated on the thrones. Tliere is 
no trembling even in the presence of God. These thunders and 
lightnings and judgments might proceed from His throne, but 
still they sit peacefully on their thrones : not a single move- 
ment is produced. And what is it that does move them ? They 
were entirely undisturbed by terror : judgment does not shake 
them from the thrones ; but when those living creatures shall 
give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the 
throne, the four-and-twenty elders shall fall down, &c. Directly 
honour is given by the executors of judgment to Him that 
sat upon the throne, the elders worship. What satisfaction in 
God — what certainty that sin was at an end — does this shew ! 
He is surely going to judge, but He will not judge those who are 
made His righteousness in Christ. They are in sympathy with 
Him ; and when the living creatures address God and ascribe 
glory and honour and thanks -to Him, then it is that they rise 
from their thrones and are found prostrate before Him. More 
than that, in their homage they cast their crowns before the throne, 
saying, " Thou art worthy, Lord, to receive the glory and the 
honour and the power : for thou hast created all things, and for 
thy will they were, and were created," They enter into His 
personal worthiness in a way that the living creatures do not, 
and with greater spiritual intelligence. They are elders ; they 
understand here the creatorial and providential glory of God, 
just as in chap. v. we see that they enter into the worthiness 
and work of the Lamb. " For thou didst create all things," &c. 
It is not, "are created and were created;" but for His will, or 
pleasure, they were in existence, even as they were originated 
at first (verses 10, 11). Thus their praise embraces the two 
great thoughts in the chapter — the creation glory and the govern- 
mental glory of God. "They were" (or they existed now under 
the care and the government of God), " and they were created " 
(or to Him they owed their origination). 

It is not merely what we shall feel then that God reveals to 
us ; but He desires us to enter now into what we shall have 
then. This glory is given us already. Assuredly we shall not 
have such a place then, if we have not got its title upon earth. 


It is ours now by faith, though then we shall have it in its 
fulness. What enables the elders to be so calm in the midst of 
judgment? That which God had done for them through the 
cross of Jesus. But God has done this now. In Christ was 
wrought as perfect a work upon earth as there could be in 
heaven. He will not do another or a better work there, though 
it may be enjoyed more above. But God has revealed this scene 
to His own that they may now enter into it intelligently, and 
may be worshippers according to its spirit, even upon earth, 
seeing the glory which will be theirs in heaven. Worship is a 
more serious thing than is supposed by many. Anything that 
does not suit the presence of God in heaven is unfit for the pre- 
sence of God on earth. Even in outward things He looks for 
our hearts to be exercised. It is a bad sign when the children 
of God allow themselves in any thing that is inconsistent with 
His presence. We are responsible that the worship of God 
should be conducted in a way worthy of Him — in solemnity 
but in liberty. We should be careful that we do not distract 
others, but rather help one another to enjoy Him better. 

The Lord grant that, walking in holy liberty, and remembering 
that it is not the order of the flesh or of forms that we have to 
keep up, we may be preserved from thinking that His order is 
less reverent than man's ! May He vouchsafe us to seek what 
becomes the presence of Him whom we come together to exalt ! 
He has given us the place of worshippers : may we worship 
Him in spirit and in truth ! A better relation or employment 
God Himself could not give even in heaven. 



We have had in the preceding chapter a sight of the greatest 
significance and interest; God unfolding the interior, so to speak, 
of heaven — its thoughts and its employment, before the fall of a 
single blow of judgment upon the earth comes before us. But 
the picture would have been incomplete, if the Holy Ghost had 
not added the scene which we have revealed to us in this chapter. 
For if there was a divine manifestation, and the elders entered 
with spiritual intelligence into the worship of God, acknowledg- 
ing His glory in creation and in providential government, yet 
they had no song there, much less did they sing " the new song." 
Now it is the great object of the chapter before us to shew this 
other and fuller way in which the elders are found prostrating 
themselves before the Lamb, and worshipping Him. The Holy 
Ghost takes particular pains to point out that God, as He dis- 
closes Himself, must be the object, spring, and foundation of all 
the adoration from the creature that follows. It is not an image 
conceived by the mind of man; that would be an idol. We must 
have a divine revelation to have divine truth and acceptable 
worship. The images of chap. iv. left God in a sort of mysterious 
grandeur and majesty. Accordingly the worship of the elders 
did not go beyond recognising that God had created and sustained 
all things. It was His glory in creation and in providence, and 
theirs was suited intelligent praise. 

In this chapter we have a sweeter scene. And why ? Because 
we have the Lamb. What blessing does He not bring ! He has 
blotted out sin — has removed the sting of death — has brought 
us nigh to God, and has put a song in our mouth fit for His 
presence on high. In this blessed portion of the word we have, 
as the great subject of it, the bearing of redemption on the occu- 
pation or worship of heaven, and the connexion of it with the 


counsels and ways of God on the earth. As long as it was only 
the creation-glory of God, we had no book at all. But now the 
prophet looks, and he sees in the right haud of Him that sat on 
the throne a book-roll written within and on the back side, 
sealed up with seven seals (verse 1). In ancient times a book 
was a manuscript roll, written only in the inside in ordinary 
cases. But here there is a fulness of revelation. It flows over, 
as it were, and is inscribed on the back as well as within, and 
altogether is secured by seven seals. 

But observe that, if God is seen with this book in His hand, 
it is only the Lamh who opens, and in connexion with the Lamb 
that the contents of the book appear. How plain that there never 
can be any opening out of God's mind as regards things to come 
without the knowledge of Clirist and of His glory in respect of 
them ! Every Christian knows that there is no such thing as 
being saved without Christ; but many do not perceive that there 
is no real understanding of prophecy without Christ, nor any 
right knowledge of what the church is. 

Thus men easily make religious societies, and call them 
churches. But I do not hesitate to say that it were easier to 
make heaven and earth than to make the church of God. But 
man's presumption has risen to svich a height that the highest 
and holiest things of God are made the work (not to say the 
sport) of human hands, because they have practically divorced 
the church from Christ. They treat the subject as optional and 
external, instead of owning that it is the especial field of the 
deepest and purest operations of tlie Spirit, the dearest object 
of the affections and the witness of the chief glories of Christ. 
The ordering of the church and the ways of God therein bring 
out the very depths and lieights of divine wisdom and grace. 

Again, one main difficulty now, as ever, is that those whom 
the Holy Ghost brings together round the name of the Lord 
are apt to carry with them a load of notions out of the country 
from whence they come — the long-cherished thoughts and habits 
which they have got to unlearn. They have also the same flesh 
as others — the same vanity, haste, conceit, &c. We must remem- 
ber that what other people have done we are in no less danger 
of doing ourselves. If the church fell away so soon after God had 


brought out His new and blessed counsels of heavenly grace here 
below, it is much more easy now (when Christendom has for- 
saken and well-nigh forgotten its best privileges) to fall again 
into the same error and unfaithfulness. The great root of the mis- 
chief is the tendency to look at the church as ours, not Christ's. 
You never know the full truth of anything that concerns either 
God or ourselves apart from Christ. It remains always true that 
" the law was given by Moses " (and he was a most honoured 
servant of God), but "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." 

It is the same with prophetical interpretations. If I connect 
prophecy with myself, with my country, or my time, I may find 
in the seventh vial the last French Eevolution, or the potato 
disease, or the Asiatic cholera, or the Crimean war, or the more 
recent struggles in Germany, Italy, and France. I may read the 
land "bordering with wings" of Great Britain and her colonies; 
I may interpret the vessels of bulrushes (Isa. xviii.) of her iron 
steamers. Do you think this too absurd ? Christian men do 
so think, and this because they connect things with themselves 
instead of with Christ. The moment, on the other hand, any- 
thing is viewed in relation to Christ, He is the light, and we are 
delivered from these thoughts of men. For what is our country 
or our time ? Neither one nor other is Christ. If I seek com- 
munion with Him, I shall at once be free from the desire to make 
something connected with myself the centre of my system. If 
people look with an historical eye at the fall of the Roman 
empire or at the rise of the Papacy, at the dark ages, or at the 
previous invasions of the barbarians, they think it all very in- 
teresting, and assume that God could not have left these out of 
His book — that He must have said something about aTtraiisition 
so important. Thus even the invention of gunpowder has been 
conceived to be anticipated in Rev. ix., the discovery of America 
in chap, x., and the political importance of Protestantism in 
chap. xi. In short, what is too wild for men to think they have 
not found out in the Apocalypse ? And these things are put forth 
even by godly men. Is not God warning us by all this ? May 
we be preserved from the same snare which has led away persons 
naturally as sober (or as weak) as we are ! He shews us that 
no amount of information, learning, or ingenuity — nay, that not 



even piety — will enable us to understand God, or His word. 
What then will ? Christ only. 

The Lamb is the key to the things of God, and not our own 
minds. There are many who think that, the church being the 
peculiar object of God's love, all prophecy must refer to it. Most 
erroneous idea ! The reverse is true. It would be more true 
to say that the church is never the subject about which pro- 
phecy occupies itself. Its proper province is to treat of earthly 
events ; but the church has its place in heavenly glory. When 
we come really to apprehend this book, we find that judgment is 
the subject of it ; and the express object of these two chapters 
is to shew that, before one of the judgments comes from the 
throne, the church is taken out of the scene, and is housed, we 
may say, in heavenly glory. The joint-heirs being then with 
Christ, God prepares to introduce the First-born Heir into the 
world. Unless this is seen, the Eevelation as a whole cannot 
be understood. A person might derive comfort from particular 
parts, but this is not comprehending the book. To understand 
the scope of the prophecy, I must make Christ the object, and 
not the church; otherwise I am out of the line of vision in which 
the Spirit wrote it. Not the church, but Christ, is the centre of 
God's kingdom. Astronomers used to think that the earth was 
the centre round which the other heavenly bodies revolved, 
judging superficially by what presented itself to the senses. 
Christ is the true sun and centre of God's system. 

Here then we find God about to unveil what man's mind 
could not possibly discover. "A strong angel proclaims with 
a loud voice," &c. (verse 2). Angels are those that " excel in 
strength" — not in intelligence. It is nowhere taught that they 
possess the same kind of spiritual understanding as the members 
of the body of Christ. The angels are never said, nor could 
they be said, to be sealed with the Holy Ghost. But He it is, 
witnessing to Christ, who is the power of intelligence in the 
feeblest child of God. If I want to know the true place of the 
church, the body, I must look at the place of Christ the Head ; 
and if I desire to learn what God is going to do with the earth, 
I must examine God's account of Christ as Son of David and 
as Son of man. If I am (unwittingly, no doubt) putting the 


church in His stead, I shall get all wrong. It is most true 
that God loves His saints, and intends that they shall share 
with Christ the rule over all the earth. Man draws from this 
the conclusion that the church must go on and prosper here 
below ; but when the divine revelations touching Christ are 
weighed more fully, I learn another truth — that Christ is coming 
in the way of judgment. This of course supposes that the 
professing body has not fulfilled its mission ; for if it had, who 
would there be in Christendom for God to pour out His judg- 
ment upon ? " That servant who knew his Lord's will, and 
prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be 
beaten with many stripes." 

Look at the truth God brings before us here. First, there is 
the book, that is to say, the revelation of the counsels of God 
as to the earth. Not a creature was found worthy to open the 
book, neither to look thereon. The prophet weeps because of 
this (verses 3, 4). It should be borne in mind that in this book 
the apostle John is not presented in his full place as an apostle 
to the church, but rather as a prophet. He was, it is true, a 
luost honoured member of the body of Christ ; but the object of 
the book is to not shew our nearness to God in that relationship : 
as a prophet of intermediate judgment and of final glory John 
writes. He is not here viewed as having perfect communion 
with what was passing around him. But this is very much the 
characteristic of what is described of the Old Testament seers; 
as it is said in 1 Peter i. 10, 11, " Of which salvation the prophets 
have enquired," &c. It may be also that the prophet John is 
here found in this position in the main, because the book of the 
Apocalypse was not merely intended for the church which was 
to be translated to heaven, and then symbolically seen there ; 
but it also meant to help a body of witnesses to be found o 
earth after the church is removed, who will go through tre- 
mendous suffering in the last times. He is a representative 
man, but rather as it seems of those who are to enjoy the 
Spirit of prophecy here below in Israel, after the removal of 
the church to heaven, than of those who as sons are entitled 
by grace to communion with their Father's heart. 

The elders shew us the true place that belongs to the heavenly 


saints ; and accordingly when John was weeping much, one of 
the elders, who thoroughly understood the matter, says to him, 
"Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the lioot of 
David, hath prevailed to open the book and the seven seals 
thereof" (verse 5). There at once we find the Lord Jesus in- 
troduced. His person is brought out, but it is in connexion 
with the earthly purposes of God. He is in relation with David 
here. Jesse's son was he whom Jehovah elected King of Israel. 
(Psalm Ixxviii.) He was emphatically David "the king." This 
title therefore expresses the purposes of God about Christ, as far 
as the earth and Israel are concerned. 

Judah we know to be the tribe from which sprang the Christ 
or Messiah. Hence the style and character in which the elder 
announced the only One who could open the book — " the Lion 
of the tribe of Judah." Majesty and power among wild beasts 
upon earth are conveyed by the metaphor employed. Jacob com- 
pared Judah to a lion. One great cliain runs through all scrip- 
ture. The Holy Ghost who spoke by Jacob on his death -bed 
speaks now through John, and reveals that, rejected as He may 
be on earth, the Lion of the tribe of Judah is owned on high, 
the One in whom God's purposes all centre. He is also " the 
root of David." This implies more than being David's Son : 
He is David's Lord. He might be of David's line, but He 
is David's root, the real though secret cause of all his titles 
and promises ; just as Jolm the Baptist said that He who came 
after him really was before him. But there is another remark- 
able intimation. It is not merely said that He is worthy, but 
that "He hath prevailed." That little word "prevailed" (con- 
quered or overcame) is bound up with tlie whole subject of the 
chapter. It is the victory of Jesus by His blood. The Lord 
Jesus had personal worthiness at any time to take the book, but 
if He had received and opened it on the ground of His own 
worthiness alone, what would this have availed for us ? All must 
have been sealed to us still. Therefore the Lord not only proved 
that He had personal worthiness to open the book which con- 
tained these future counsels of God, but He prevailed, and by 
virtue of that prevailing we are entitled to listen and to under- 
stand the mind of God even as to the future. 


" And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living 
creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing as it 
had been slain," &c. (ver. 6). John had heard of a Lion, but now 
that he came to look, it was a Lamb. When he expected to see 
the S3Mnbol of power, there stood before all the picture of most 
holy suffering and rejection. And this was the emblem of Christ 
as seen even on the throne in all the glory of heaven — a smitten 
One, guileless and unresisting, " a Lamb as it had been slain." 
He is clothed with perfection of power ; the seven horns no 
doubt mean as much. The seven eyes are the .symbol of perfect 
intelligence — the fulness of the Spirit, here in respect of earth 
and its government. But the One who is seen with all the power 
and wisdom is the Lamb. The basis, I believe, of all our blessing 
stands in that blessed truth. The Lord of glory has become a 
Lamb, and as such must be known, if we are to profit by Him. 

The Lamb, as in John i. 29, is what answers to the idea of 
redemption. Even with the Jews, when the lamb was offered 
up morning and evening, God was shewing that, if a poor sinful 
people had anything to do with Him, and if He could go on with 
them, it was because of the lamb. Those who by faith under- 
stood looked forward, however obscurely, to a better Lamb. 
God's Son was to become God's Lamb. And now that He is sent 
away from the world, He is the rejected One, and though glorified 
in heaven. He still bears there the marks of the sufferer. He is 
seen in the midst of the throne a Lamb as it had been slain. 

Yet the sacrifice of the Lamb is not so much the subject of 
the Holy Ghost here as His being the holy sufferer accepted 
above. Only foundation for the sinner, He is also the pattern 
and the source of the hopes of His own, and for this reason, 
that if we suff'er, we shall also reign with Him. Here then, as 
everywhere, we find that the King of kings and Lord of lords 
was the greatest of sufferers. God brings those two thoughts 
into connexion in chap. xvii. — the suffering and rejected Lamb, 
and the King of kings. Why ? Because God would shew us 
all glory resting on Christ, the earth-rejected and despised One. 
The very cross, which seemed to be the death-blow of all hopes 
for Israel, opens the way for better thoughts and higher counsels 
of glory than ever. If we looked at Calvary in itself, it might 



have appeared that all was at an end, and hope itself for ever 
laid in the grave ; for there was the One who might have blessed 
them, and vanquished Satan, and terminated human misery and 
sin, Himself cast out and crucified ! All seemed to be nipped 
in the bud, and prematurely closed in the death of Christ ; and 
yet such was the very way God took that He might readily and 
eternally bless according to His own heart. What seemed for 
the time to be the victory of Satan was really the triumph of 
God for ever over him and his works. 

Observe, it is as the Lamb that the Lord Jesus takes His 
place in heaven. What is the practical effect of this on our 
souls ? The more a man enters into it, the less does he look for 
a place of honour and esteem in the world. He knows well 
that, while Satan is god of this world, and Christ liid in God, 
truth must be despised here below ; and consequently he is not 
surprised if he sees prosperity crowning that which is evil. He 
will be prepared for ail this, because it is just the history of 
Christ. The slain Lamb brings before us the whole moral course 
of the world. But one thing more let me ask, Does the Lamb 
bring before your soul your own history ? Do you know what 
it is to be cast out because of Christ, not because you deserve 
to be rejected (though in another sense this is true), but because 
you desire to stand for the Lord Jesus at all cost ? 

But there is another side : Christ is glorified now — not indeed 
as yet in the eyes of the world. But heaven is opened to our 
view, and we find that He who was most despised here is exalted 
in heaven, and that God has gathered there round the Lamb 
that was slain others into association witli Him. I ask, Has He 
called you ? Has He given you the portion of the slain Lamb 
on the earth ? If you are a Christian, you ought not to be happy 
without knowing something of this. A saint ought to be pained 
if he finds that, instead of realizing, he does not know wliat such 
language means. God desires that we shouhl know it, not only 
about Christ, but as our own portion here on eartli. 

In the days of old David, though God's anointed king, knew 
sorrow and rejection, while another king had the power for the 
time. So now, though the power of the beast is not yet fully 
developed, the world gets ready for him to come and govern 


it. David was cast out, despised, insulted — thought, or at least 
by insinuation said by Nabal, to be some run-away from his 
master ; and certainly appearances looked very unpromising, 
surrounded as he was in the cave of Adullam by a band of the 
distressed and indebted in Israel. There were many of his 
followers who, as far as nature was concerned, may have 
justly deserved to be thought lightly of But what a change 
grace makes ! David was the special person whom God's heart 
rested on, and they knew it, and gathered round the object of 
God's love. There was a dignity that now accrued to them 
because of their companionship with David. We can hardly be 
more miserable and weak than we are, but as that one object 
gave all the value to the inmates of the cave of Adullam, so it 
is from association with Christ that all our blessing flows. The 
priests of God were even drawn there by David. But a greater 
than David is come, and God has sent down the Holy Ghost 
that we may know that the despised One is now in glory. And 
the Lord grant that we may have more practical acquaintance 
with His place of rejection here below, and not want to escape 
or deny it ! There is nothing the flesh dislikes so much as to be 
despised. It is coinparatively easy to buckle up one's strength 
to meet persecution or determined opposition, but it is another 
thing to be content in being nothing at all. In us, worms as 
we are, this touches the will most ; yet this is exactly what the 
Lord of glory, Jesus, condescended to be ; and the enmity that 
despised Him rose to its climax at the cross. In spite of all the 
pretended enlightenment and liberalism of the present day, the 
spirit of the world is not really changed. I would not trust for a 
single moment that which arises from mere indifference toward 
God, or from glorifying the rights of man. Men count truth 
and error all as one, have no conscience toward God, and preach 
respect for each other. The spirit of the age that now looks 
and speaks so fair might at any moment rise up fiercely against 
God, and then we should learn the truth of our experience, that 
it is a slain Lamb whom we know and worship on high. We 
should discover the reality of it, and of fellowship with Him, 
and it would arouse many a saint of God from the slumber in 
which he is now ; for even the wise virgins may sleep. " Awake ! 

I 2 


thou that slee])esi" is said to Christians. If you have been 
asleep among dead things and persons, the Lord grant that you 
may not remain in this condition, but speedily clear yourself 
from these, "and Christ shall give you light!" 

It is the slain Lamb that is evidently the great centre of 
heavenly worship. Now that sin is come into the world, the 
creative glory of God is not enough, nor even His providential 
government. If He is to be glorified, save in pure judgment of 
His adversaries, if displays of merciful goodness are to be known 
in such a world as this, if a new song is to be sung in heaven, 
there must be redemption, and this not by power only, but by 
suffering and blood. Hence, as the central throne in the pre- 
ceding chapter was filled by the Lord God, the Almighty, so here 
the central object on whom all blessing for the creature depends, 
to whom, equally with Him who sat on the throne, worship is 
offered, is the Lamb. All heaven honours Him as the Father is 
honoured. He is the First-born, the Heir, not only by rights of 
creation and intrinsic personal glory, but by redemption the 
divinely appointed " Heir of all things." God destines the wide 
universe for His sceptre. But how and on what plea would 
Christ take the inheritance ? By power ? Surely, all power was 
His. In the day of His humiliation the demons were subject to 
the least of His servants through His name. Even then He 
could say, " I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven," the 
energy of the seventy in casting out demons being to His spirit, 
I apprehend, the sign and earnest of complete victory in due 
time. " Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and 
scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy." Why not take 
the inheritance then and there ? After the evidence of such 
triumphs over the usurper, why go down unto death, even the 
death of the cross ? " Because the foolishness of God is wiser 
than men ; and the weakness of God is stronger than men." 
Because God must be vindicated in His majesty, love, wisdom, 
and righteousness. Because Christ could not accept a defiled 
inheritance. (Compare Col. i. 20 and Heb. ix. 21-23.) Be- 
cause He would not reign alone, and in this He and His Father 
were of one mind. In His grace He would have joint-heir.s, the 
sharers of His glory. Such a reconciliation was only possible 


through death, even if the offering were the body of His flesh, 
all spotless flesh as it was. Peace could not be made stably and 
divinely save through the blood of His cross. Therefore is it 
that He is here seen and sung as the Lamb. God means as- 
suredly to bring the First-begotten into the habitable world; 
and the book in His right hand describes, I suppose, the process 
whereby the inheritance is to be put into His hands ; but pur- 
chase by blood, blessed be His name, is the ground on which all 
is taken. When He receives the book, all is in motion. As in 
chap, iv., when the living creatures pay honour to God, the 
twenty-four elders fall down and do homage, so here, when the 
Lamb takes the book out of the right hand of Him that sat on 
the throne, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders 
are prostrate before Him. Though it might be opened for the 
purpose of striking some blow, there was no apprehension, no 
trouble, no concern about themselves in particular ; they fell 
down before the Lamb. It was not a question of merely receiving 
from God, but they would exalt Him. Far from taking away 
anything from God, on the contrary, in the very presence of the 
throne and of Him that sat on it, the Lamb is the object of 
worship, the source of its purest and deepest strains. God is 
best glorified when the Lamb has His meed of praise. 

They liad " each a harp and golden bowls * full of odours, 
which are the prayers of saints." In the tabernacle service of 
the wilderness silver trumpets were used for holy purposes by 
the priests. David first introduced the harp, sej)arating the sons 
of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, for songs in the house of the 
Lord with cymbals, psalteries, and harps. These, like the priests, 
were divided into twenty-four classes ; so that the allusion is 
obvious, with that measure of difference which is characteristic 

* The reviewer in Evangelical Christendom, August, 1860, p. 451, objects, 
among other departures from " the time-honoured expressions of our venerable 
Saxon Bible," that I have given "bowls" instead of "vials." But sm-ely he 
must be aware that "a small bottle" is not intended by <pia.\r] here, or any- 
where else in the book, but rather a broad open vessel or bason. Compare in the 
LXX. Exod. xxvii. 3 ; xxxviii. 3 ; Num. vii. passim : also answering to other 
Hebrew words, Num. iv. 14 ; 2 Chron. iv. 16, &c. We ought not to sacrifice the 
sense to sound. The English word "vial," though derived from the Greek, 
really misleads. Habit or the ear may account for such a preference. 


of the Apocalypse. Priestly and choral services are here bleuded 
in perfection. Does not this also serve to shew that the elders 
only are here said to have harps and basons of incense ? In chap. 
XV. the four living creatures give the angels the seven golden 
bowls full of divine wrath. Thus all is in keeping : the elders 
being the heads of royal priesthood, as the cherubim wait on the 
execution of God's judgments, though both unite (chap, v.) in 
the fullest homage to the Lamb. But who are those "saints" 
that pray ? The elders, or the church, were in heaven, and in 
full choir of praise. Whose prayers then are these ? They come 
from saints who will suffer when the church is above. The elders 
are those heavenly saints who have been removed previously, 
including perhaps the Old Testament saints. They are in the 
place of adoration and praise, whereas prayer implies need. If 
they have to do with prayers, it is the prayers of others, not their 
own. Besides they sing a new song, that of the Lamb's purchase 
by blood, saying, " Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain," &c. 

A very important change occurs in this verse, well known to 
every person tolerably acquainted with the original scriptures. 
Persons who have studied the most ancient manuscripts and 
other witnesses of this book, all agree that it is, " and hast made 
them to our God kings (or a kingdom) and priests" (ver. 10). 
Who are those meant by "them" and made kings and priests 
" to our God " ? They do not speak of themselves. 

Indeed, I am prepared to go farther, and am bound to state my 
firm impression that in the ninth verse the word "us" was put 
in by copyists who supposed that the elders were celebrating 
their own blessing.* But the elders are so perfectly at rest 

* It cannot be denied that the true readings of Kov. v. 9, 10, are some of them 
unusually hard to bo decided. Out of five there are four uncial MSS. available, 
one of the oldest being deficient from Rev. iii. 19, to v. 16. The versions too are 
conflicting, and so are the editors. There is no doubt, however, that vie are 
obliged to road ni/Tovf, "them" (andnot j//iae, "us") in verse 10, on the authority 
of the four uncials (the palimpsest of Paris being here deficient and so leaving 
us one short), forty cursives, and many ancient versions. But evidently that 
substitution, true and certain as it is, of them for "us" in verse 10, obscures or 
destroys the connexion with the preceding verse, if "us" is supposed to hold 
its ground in verso 9. And this is the more noticeable, as both clauses form part 
of the same song in the month of the same personages. For what more incon- 
gruous than "redeemed ii.s and made tlnm," wlu.-n no other class has been 


about themselves, that they can be occupied about others. I 
believe, accordingly, that the true sense is this : " Thou art 
^vorthy to take the book, .... for thou wast slain, and hast 
bought to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, 
and people, and nation ; and hast made them to our God kings 

referred to between the clauses ? Hence the strangest solutions of the difficulty- 
have been proposed. Thus Prof. M. Stuart, who takes for granted the correct- 
ness of the text of Griesbach and Scholz, refers the uvtovq of verse 10 to (pvXfjg, 
yXuiarffTjg k.t.X. i.e. "thou has made every tribe," &c., "to be kings and priests." 
Now, limit this as you may, it is a construction awkward in the extreme, and 
without parallel in St. John, or perhaps in any other author. Besides, it ignores, 
instead of solving, the enigma. For >)/iae ek is left out of the result, and if the 
same party is intended (as Prof. S. thinks), the question is, why should "us" 
be used in verse 9, and "them" in verse 10? The alternative to which the 
Professor is reduced, of portioning out this short song between the living crea- 
tures and the elders, and thus accounting for the change in the pronouns, strikes 
one as an evidence of the difficulty rather than of its removal. Singular to say, 
he alludes to the true key, as it seems to me, as if it had no authority beyond the 
conjecture of an eccentric German. The truth is that in one of the best manu- 
scripts (A or the Codex Alexandrinus) which contain the passage, rifxag in verse 9 
does not appear; nor is any equivalent given in one of the oldest extant versions, 
— the Aethiopic of the fourth century. It is also wanting in a cursive MS. known 
as Codex Borgiae. I admit that in this case the amount of testimony is far from 
being considerable. Nevertheless the omission seemed probable to Griesbach ; 
and in fact it is dropped in some of the latest editions of the Greek Testament, 
which appeal to ancient authority. Tischendorf omitted it from the first, as he 
does still : Lachmann had it in his earlier manual, but erased it in his second and 
more correct edition: and the younger Buttmann has it not in his recent manual 
Greek Testament (Leipsic, 1856) : so Dean Alford. These critics have arrived at 
that conclusion on independent principles, and on purely external grounds. If 
it be sound, the construction is elliptical but frequent, especially in the writings 
of St. John (compare John xvi. 17 ; 2 John 4 ; Rev. ii. 10 ; iii. 9 ; xi. 9). There 
can be no objection, therefore, on the score of phraseology, but, on the contrary, 
he sentence runs quite in his style without y'lfiag. Some scribe, ignorant of this, 
and supposing that the saints in heaven must needs sing there of their own re- 
demption, as they had done on earth (chap. i. 5, 6), may have inserted the first 
I'mag. This, in turn, producing a jar with the avrovg in the following verse, 
would natm-aUy require the further demand of taking its place there ; and that 
again would lead to the change in the person of the verb in the last clause. The 
internal considerations I believe to be very weighty in favour of the omission ; 
but these have been, perhaps, sufficiently given above in the text. The reading 
i]y6fja<yaQ T(p Quf I'mwv (as in Cod. 44) appears to bo the original text. The 
Alexandi'ian MS. which is the nearest among those that diverge, followed pretty 
closely by the Aethiopic, omits j'/juaJv in verse 9 and ry 9tii) I'jfiwv in verse 10. 
But these words are unquestionably genuine, and add much to the proof that the 
elders praised the Lamb for His redemption of others, distinct from themselves. 


and priests ; and they shall reign over the earth." They are 
speaking about the saints whose prayers they were offering 
As they were occupied with their prayers, so here they were 
praising the Lord for His goodness to the saints still on earth. 
They intimate that in taking above the heavenly saints, He had 
not done with His rich mercy ; that, even in the midst of His 
judgments, He would have a purchased people, who were to 
share the glory of the kingdom as a royal priesthood, instead of 
being swallowed up in the delusions of antichrist. 

These anticipated companions are the same probably that we 
see in chapter vi. as " souls under the altar, slain for the word 
of God," &c. ; and in chapter xiv., " Blessed are the dead that 
die in the Lord from henceforth," &c. ; and in chapter xv., " Them 
that had gotten the victory over the beast," &c. There are other 
allusions also in the body of the book to the righteous. Clearly 
they were saints of God upon the earth in conflict or tribulation, 
after the elders (who, as we saw, represent the church or the 
heavenly saints) were translated to heaven. As to the saints 
who won the victory over the beast, "they sing the song of 
Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb." Observe 
the mingled character of the scene. True, it was the song of the 
Lamb ; but it was the song of Moses too : it was partly earthly 
and partly heavenly. Again, in chapter xx. 4, it is said, " And 
I saw thrones, and they sat upon them." These are the elders, 
already risen or changed, seated upon the thrones. " And I saw 
the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, 
and for the word of God" {i.e., the people whose souls he had 
seen in chapter vi.) ; and, again, those " which had not wor- 
shipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his 
mark upon their foreheads;" these last being the persons that 
had sung the song of victory in chapter xv. Thus the two classes 
which had suffered, after the rapture of the church, are at length 
united with the rest in glory, and all reign together with Christ. 

It will be remarked how thoroughly the whole agrees with 
the song in chapter v. The elders are in heaven, in the enjoy- 
ment of God and the Lamb ; but there are saints on earth who 
are praying, and the elders above are occupied about their 
prayers, and celebrate the worthiness and work of the Lamb in 


behalf of others who should reigu over the earth as well as 
themselves.* Instead of this taking a single fraction away 
from us, it adds indirectly, if not in itself, to the place of glory 
in which the church is seen in heaven. They are so fully blest 
that they can heartily rejoice in the good of others. There are 
some too apt to be restless if they are not always listening to 
the gospel for themselves — not because they value it more than 
others, but because they are not thoroughly established in grace. 
When our hearts are quite satisfied, we do not feel the need 
of anxiously picking and choosing in the scriptures ; we prefer 
the Lord to choose for us, and are thankful, because it may be 
something to His praise that we perhaps have not known before, 
or a weapon we may want in our next conflict with the enemy. 
Whatever exalts Christ and glorifies Him is that which we 
should delight in. Whatever detects the deceitfulness of our 
hearts is most salutary to us. When the elders are found 
thanking God, they take up His goodness to those who are 
suffering on the earth, and they bless the Lamb because He had 
been slain and had bought these also to their God. It was their 

* I cannot but think Mr. E.'s remarks and notes on this {Rorae Apoc. i. pp. 
86-96) confused and unsatisfactory. He reasons from vulgar readings which no 
competent critic, whatever may be his bias, can entertain. It is easy to convert 
a preconceived opinion into a decision that our own view is much more simple. 
It is also a serious mistake to say that the sense is "substantially the same," 
whether we have us or they in verse 10. Again, the Sinaitic and Porphyrian 
MSS. turn the scale in favour of the twenty-two ciirsives, and the better ancient 
versions, which support jia<yCKivaov(nv against A B, eighteen cursives, &c., exhi- 
biting the present tense. But fjfiag and fiacnXtvofiev are indefensible and mani- 
festly the work of a meddling corrector. It is strange too that the question of 
the ellipse in verse 9 is passed over in silence, seeing that there "us" is, to say 
the least, doubtful ; and if spurious removes the main reason for viewing the 
^da as redeemed. Mr. E. treats this last idea as "unquestionable," of which 
there is really no proof whatever. It is evident, further, that there is much 
embarrassment as to the condition of the elders, in one page referring their 
insignia to the resurrection-state, and in the next concluding that it is the 
division of the church consisting of the departed in paradise especially, that we 
must suppose depicted here. Finally, it is erroneous to speak of " the general 
assembly of the church ;" for iravrjyvpti belongs to the clause about the angels. 
But letting this pass (as the authorised version m.isleads many in Heb. xii.), what is 
meant by the apparent distinction, in p. 94, between the church of the first-bom, 
and the spirits of just men made perfect ? I quite allow this ; but I do not see 
its consistency with Blr. E.'s statement about the elders and cherubim. 

122 THE angels' praise. 

delight to think of that work so rich in results for God — to 
think of others from every quarter who should share the king- 
dom over the earth. 

The angels take up, not the new song in view of the Lamb's 
purchase, but His worthiness to receive power, and riches, 
and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 
Loudly do they proclaim His title to dominion whom man de- 
spised and slew. "Worthy [not "art thou," but] is the Lamb that 
was slain" (verses 11, 12). They do not sing of His purchase, 
because they were not so bought ; they have not to do with it, 
though they are sustained by the power of God ; but those who 
have known their need as poor sinners can well sing the new 
song. The angels speak of His worth and His death, but they 
do not chant the deep and joyous notes of the blood-bought. 
If I look at the gift and person of Christ, I can see how God's 
character comes out, and His love is manifested. If I look at 
the great work of Christ, and what I have in and with Him as He 
is, I can see how the love of God with us is perfected. But where 
is anything in the glory of heaven that shines so much as the 
cross of Christ ? We may follow Jesus on the earth, and see the 
holiness of God ; we may glance above, and see how He delights 
in having us happy around Him ; we may look again at Jesus 
in His path on earth, seeking out the lost, the miserable, and 
laying His hands on babes, even touching the leper ; but whether 
we think of the holiness or the love of God, of His righteousness 
or His grace, it is in the cross where all is found and displayed 
to faith, as we can get it nowhere else. 

" And every creature which is in the heaven, and on the earth, 
and under the earth,* and such as are on the sea, and all things 

* Every creature "under the earth," viroKarm Tijg yije, must be carefully 
distinguished, notwithstanding Bcngel, from the KaraxOoviiov in Phil. ii. 10. 
The former, I suppose, means the things, animate or inanimate, beneath the 
earth's surface which anticipate in the vision, their deliverance from corruption 
into the liberty of the ^lor;/ of the children of God. They cannot of course share 
the liberty oi grace which we enjoy; but when wo arc in the glory, it will be the 
pledge of their glorious change speedily to follow. The latter in Philippiana 
means the infernal beings, who must bow with every knee elsewhere at (or in) 
tlie name of Jesus. I am aware that Dean Alford, with Theodoret, &c., takes 
Karax- as the dead; but this, thougli a classical usage of the word, seems to 
be far from the scope of the passage. 


ill them, heard I saying, Blessing, ... to him that sitteth on the 
throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever" (verse 13). The 
chord is touched, the keynote sounded, and heard at last in 
heaven. If the Lamb takes the book, not a creature but responds 
in joy to the ear of the seer, as now the whole of the lower uni- 
verse groans in sorrow because of Adam's sin. Why should they 
not rejoice if God and the Lamb unite to deliver ? Doubtless it 
is but the opening out of the Lamb's title-deed • and much re- 
mains to be done in destroying the works of the devil, and those 
that destroy the earth. Still this is the sure signal, and before 
God every creature anticipates in sympathy. 

All bow down before the Lamb. The myriads of angels join 
in acknowledgment of His death ; but it is the place of the 
heavenly saints to enter into the sense of its efficacy, yea, and 
into the deep joy — God's joy — in the blessing of others, and not 
merely their own. The four living creatures set to it their seal, 
and say, " Amen ; " but the elders fall down and do homage.* 
They did not merely yield their assent to all, but their hearts 
went along with it. It is ever their place. 

Such a subject as this may well leave one immensely behind. 
We must be living very much in its depths in order to feel it 
aright, or to give it an adequate expression. But if I have directed 
attention to the blessedness of Christ as the slain Lamb, and 
shewn that God makes Him to be the key for understanding His 
otherwise hidden purposes, I shall be thankful. Even to under- 
stand God's purposes about the earth, we must see the Lamb. 
It is only in communion with Him that we can enter into them. 
To appreciate what follows, we must be subject to God's thoughts 
of Christ ; we must go back to what God begins with ; we must 
see and hear the Lamb. The Lord grant that such may be our 
better portion ! We shall be near that Blessed One, in whose 
person and work shines all that is gracious and blessed in God, 
from whom we can learn in peace His most solemn judgment of 
man's rebellion and apostasy. 

* It is well to note that all the reliable authorities, including all the five 
uncials, a vast body of cursives, and most versions, &c., omit ^wiri tig tovq aidvag 
ruiv aiijjviiiv. How admirably this omission coalesces with the context and main- 
tains the glory of God and the Lamb as the common object of homage on the 
part of the elders is evident. 



From tlio two pvcc(Mlin^' cha,])tcr.s the lessons arc apparent, and 
1 do nut doubt should bo learned : firstly, God sits on the throne, 
whence proceed lightnings, voices, and thunders ; secondly, all 
tliinrr.s are j^iven into the hands of the Lamb, who unfolds all ; 
thirdly, the! perfect secui'ily and the blessed (Miijiloynient of the 
heavenly saints, thru I'ciiiovrd from tlu^ scene of trial; and (his 
lon<^f before the tiay of tlie Lord, when tlunr bli'ssin^;- will be 
manift'sted I'ully to the world. The moment the sold and the 
l)ody, or both (the soul now, tht' soul luid body united at the 
eominj^' of ( Christ), leave this worlil, there is for the saints, 1 
believe, immediate onjoynuMit of the Lord. Is that a scriptural 
thought which, in a hynm wo sometimes sing, about "soaring to 
worlds unknown ";' Does scripture intimate anything at all like 
a sold journeying on a voyage of disct)very ? On the contrary 
does it not meet w ith peaceful and immediate entrance into the 
presence of the Lord ? When heaven is allowed to burst for a 
moment ujjon men on the earth (as, for instance, at the birth and 
the transliguration, ami in the cases of Stephen, Paul, &c.) it 
appears that there is no such great distance between them. Of 
course it is not a (piestion of mere physical space, lint there is 
a divine power which at once brings a person out of the present 
state of existence into the enjoyed presence of the Lord. So when 
He 1 limself was speaking to the ]K)or dying thief, it was " to-day 
shalt. thou be with mt> in paradise," — that very day. There is 
iiotliiiig to my miiul like the poetieal sentiment of soaring to 
W()rlds unknown. 

Hut while the soul goes at once into the ]»resenee of the Lonl 
in the case i>f death, and "in a mouu'iit, in the twinkling of an 
eye," the saints will be caught up at the ei)ming of Christ; yet 
we must remember that their manifestation will be a diil'ereut 


and later event. Other passages prove or imply an interval. 
But we should not be able so plainly to gather from other scrip- 
tures how considerable it will be between their gathering to 
the Lord and their manifestation to the world, but for the pro- 
phetic part of the Eevelation, which makes it quite clear. God 
has important purposes to fulfil during this interval. He has 
to put the earth into a condition to receive the Lord Jesus, who 
as the great Heir of all things must be put in possession of the 
inheritance. But, further. He purposes to bring the joint-heirs 
from heaven along with Jesus. Accordingly the interval is filled 
up with the preparations for all this. To accomplish it, there 
must be judgments upon the world's wickedness ; but, parallel 
with these judgments, we have some signal acts of divine mercy. 
When the great and terrible day of Jehovah comes, there will 
be forbearance no longer with such as are found evil ; " the door 
is shut." But during the intervening time there will be testi- 
mony and the reception of it among both Jews and Gentiles ; 
but so much the more surely judgment for those who, having 
heard the gospel now, will have rejected it. I see small ground 
to conclude that there will be hope of mercy for such. There 
will be an interval of some years, in which God will work in 
judgment and in mercy — judgments increasing in severity on 
these favoured lands where the gospel has been preached ; but 
I doubt any such thing as the grace that now is. The sad 
reverse will appear. God will give up to blind hardness those 
who have now refused His mercy. He will, as it were, retire 
from tliese countries to save outside them ; and from those who 
have been talking so self-complacently about the light with 
which they are favoured, God will then, if I read prophecy 
aright, turn to such as are now far away from the gospel. 

Is it not a solemn thought that, where the light of Christen- 
dom is now most found, there will be the greatest darkness of 
apostacy? As to this scripture it is plain enough. (2 Thess. ii.) He 
lets us know that the favoured scene of God's mercy, where He 
is now at work and His word is most circulated, is destined to 
fall back into the most frightful and fatal idolatry — into the 
union of infidelity along with it — into anti-christianism. (Dan. 
xi. 36 et scqq. ; Rev. xiii.) Such a change may be set down as 


the gloomy dream of a feverish mind. But this is because men 
prefer to believe their own thoughts and fancies, and do not 
take the trouble of searching into God's word to see what is 
there. Alas ! do not too many in Christendom even make the 
prophetic word a butt for their ridicule? Will it be believed 
that men pride themselves on their ignorance of a great part of 
scripture ? Would it be conceived, if it were not the fact, that 
the wise and prudent hold as an axiom that prophecy was not 
given to shew us what is coming, but only, when the events 
are past, to prove that God had foreknown them ? Surely the 
Christian wants no proof of this ; and prophecy is given that the 
believer should know how God opens to us His secrets about 
what He is going to do on the earth. We have the word and 
the Spirit to make us understand it. But if Christians have 
not faith in the prophetic word, it cannot profit them ; for, like 
the rest of scripture, that word must be mixed with faith in them 
that hear it. 

One important thing, then, we have seen to be assumed — the 
removal of the heavenly saints from the earth. In chaps, iv. v. 
and throughout the body of the book they are no longer found 
there. They are glorified in heaven, and yet it is not until chap, 
xix. that they are manifested, when they come out of heaven. 
Between these two points we have evidently a long series of 
events. We have seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials, with 
various episodes of great interest and importance. These three 
different series of judgments are not executed by the Lord in 
person. It is manifest that they must occur after the Lord has 
come to receive His church, but before He executes His grand 
personal judgment in cliap. xix. For it is beyond dispute that, 
before the saints are taken to the Lord and so can come with 
Him, He must have come for them. How then did those sym- 
bolised by the four and twenty glorified elders get to heaven ? 

It may be said, they might have been taken into this position 
individually through death, or that their souls might be glorified 
there. But there is no such thought in scripture as the souls of 
the saints being seated on thrones, and having crowns on their 
heads. Neither do the souls of the saints form the complete 
headship of heavenly priests, as taught us by the four and twenty 


elders ; for we know from 1 Thess. iv. that part of the heavenly 
company will be found alive on earth up to the presence of the 
Lord which raises the dead and changes the living believers. 
There can be no such completeness, then, as is meant by the sym- 
bol till the Lord will have translated both to meet Him above. 
The allusion is to the twenty-four orders of the priesthood set 
up by king David. Now Christ is at that time about to take the 
place of king ; and, just as before the kingdom of Solomon 
was established, David divided the priesthood into twenty-four 
courses, so we find that before the true Solomon, the Lord Jesus, 
comes out in all His glory, we have the antitypical courses as a 
whole. The heavenly priesthood is seen complete. 

It might be asked. Why is it only the heads that are seen, and 
not the body of the priesthood ? It appears probable, but I only 
offer it as a suggestion, that those that are taken up when the 
Lord comes will form the heads of the priesthood, and that those 
who suffer after and join them may be the subordinate body. 
Twenty-four is necessarily the complete sum of the courses, or 
of their chiefs. Now, the souls in heaven can never be even that 
completed ; because till Christ comes, there will always be a part 
of the church remaining on the earth, as we have just seen. I 
conceive, therefore, that by the full priestly number twenty-four 
surrounding the throne, God intends to shew that they are not 
that portion which consists of the souls in paradise ; * for it re- 
quires the addition of us who are alive and remain, in order to 
make up the church of the firstborn, or the then complete sum 
of the risen and changed saints. The heavenly saints up to that 
time must then be necessarily removed to their seats on high. 

How and when did this take place? There is no real difficulty 
about their translation, because they never can be removed as a 
complete body, and changed, till the Lord Jesus comes Himself ; 
as He said, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come 

* The reader of the Horae Apoc. will rememher how embarrassed the aiithoi 
is on this very point (i. 91-96). He is compelled to own that the elders' insignia 
point to the resui-rection-state after Christ's coming, page 92 ; yet in the next 
page, 93, he says, it seems that it is especially the dej)arted in paradise that we must 
suppose figured here. For want of seeing the distinction between the vrapovcria of 
the Lord and the tTri<pdvfia Trjg -napovniaQ avTov (2 Thess. ii. 1, 8), these and 
other perplexities constantly spring up. 


again, and receive you unto myself." And this evidently is not 
sending angels for them. We find angels sent to gather in elect 
Jews, or Israel, from the four quarters of heaven (Matt, xxiv.) ; 
but to gather in His church He comes Himself. And this falls 
in with what we said elsewhere. The saints in Thessalonica were 
told to wait for God's Son from heaven (1 Thess. i.) ; and as to 
those who were gone, they were not to sorrow as those who had 
no hope. For the Lord Himself — not merely by angelic or pro- 
vidential intervention, but the Lord Himself — would descend 
from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and 
with the trump of God. There might be angels, but there is not 
a word said about them here. When the Lord is revealed exe- 
cuting vengeance, angels will accompany Him ; but here, at the 
descent of the Lord Himself, " the dead in Christ shall rise first," 
forming one portion of the heavenly saints; then "we which are 
alive and remain" shall be caught up together with tliem. There 
and then, as it seems to me, we have the twenty-four elders, 
evidently the whole of the priestly heads. The saints whose 
bodies are in their graves are raised first, then the surviving saints 
are changed, by the presence of the Lord. There is but the 
barest interval of a moment between those two momentous 
effects of the voice of the Son of God. And so shall we, caught 
up together, ever be with the Lord. 

This most solemn and blessed event must occur therefore 
between chapters iii. and iv. of this book. It is not described, 
because the object of the Eevelation is not to shew the Lord's 
coming in the way of grace, though there are of course allusions 
to it. There is an entire passing over of His presence to meet 
His heavenly saints in the prophetic visions of the Revelation, 
but a full description of His coming ivith them in chap. xix. 
This last is what is styled elsewhere the appearing or day of 
the Lord, when He punishes with everlasting destruction from 
His presence, and from the glory of His power. During this 
interval the heavenly saints are with the Lord above ; all the 
members of the church are there, and in their bodies of glory. 
The first mention of them is in the fourth chapter, where we 
Ihid not angels, but redeemed men — persons whose very vesture 
of white, whose thrones, and crowns of gold, are all connected 


witli redemption — persons who are evidently exercising their 
priesthood before God in chap. v. These are the elders. How 
did they get there ? The Lord must have come, and have 
gathered theiii to Himself in the air, and so have accomplished 
His promise to them : — " In my Father's house are many 
mansions." "I will come again and receive you unto myself; 
that where I am ye may be also." So now when this future 
scene arrives, having prepared the place, He will have come for 
them, and taken them to the Father's house. 

It is remarkable, however, as shewing the character of this 
book, that, although we do see them in the presence of God, 
it is not called the house of the Father. On the contrary, 
it is a throne that is seen; and so too, when He who sits 
tliereon is named, it is not as the Father, but as the Lord God 
Almighty. When we speak of God as "the Father," it is to 
express the nearest place of affection into which God has 
brought us; and when we hear of God as "the Lord God 
Almighty," it is connected with the putting forth of Divine 
power and government. " God," as such, is tlie most general 
and abstract name, and implies no relationship with another 
being. But to be called " the Father" necessarily implies the 
closest relationship of love, whether spoken in the highest and 
intrinsic and eternal sense of Jesus as the Son of the Father, 
or subordinately of those whom He has taken into the adoption 
of sons, loved with the same love. (John xvii. and 1 John iii.) 

In Genesis i. creation is the subject, and God (or Elohim) is 
spoken of as the One who originates. In the next chapter of 
Genesis He is called the " Lord (or Jehovah) God," because He 
is there entering into special connexion with His creatures, and 
Adam is put in the place of responsibility to Him as Jehovah- 
Eloliim, that is the God of creation in moral relationship. How 
perfect is every word of God ! Infidels, instead of seeing the 
perfectness of His word, have only reasoned from their own 
ignorance and impotence, and have endeavoured to prove that 
these chapters must have been written by two different persons, 
because of the different titles given to God. But instead of 
being the varying style of different men, it is the wisdom of 
God that discovers itself in these distinctions. When the rela- 



tionship of authority occurs, and man is put under the test of 
obedience, Jehovah-Elohim is the title used ; but when in the 
New Testament He enters into relationship with sons, it is " the 
Pather." He did not bring out the latter name as a formal name 
until THE Son came, who opened, so to speak, the sluice, that all 
God's grace might flow out, and specially in His resurrection by 
virtue of His death. But between the two extremes of the trial 
of the creature in Eden and the accomplishment of redemption, 
God brought out first the name of Almighty, and next that of 
Jehovah. Abraham was called to leave his own country and 
kindred, called to be a pilgrim, having none but God to look 
to, and so Jehovah most suitably reveals Himself to him as 
El-Shaddai, God Almighty. (Gen. xvii. 1.) Subsequently He 
makes Himself known to Israel by His name Jehovah, as a 
ground of national relationship. 

Here the Lord constantly brings out these names, but not 
that of Father, or at least not to us, but to Jesus. Just as the 
scene is not the Father's house, but the throne, so the title taken 
by God is not that of Father. The centre of this heavenly scene 
is the throne of God, and the saints are not alluded to as enjoy- 
ing mansions with the Son in the Father's house, but are seen 
enthroned. God will be no longer gathering the church on earth ; 
Jesus will have come for it, and gone above. When the church 
was the object of God's care on the earth, they even hcr(> below 
called Him Father ; but when He is going to execute judgment 
on the earth, they, already raptured and in heaven, understand 
it and address Him accordingly. 

The Lord's coming, then, to receive the church must have been 
before the facts which answer to the vision of the twenty-four 
enthroned elders. Some people may be slow to believe that the 
prophecy would pass over such an important event in silence. 
But it is forgotten that, whenever and wherever you put it, there 
*s silence as to the act of the saints' rajiture in tlie book of 
Revelation. The only question is, Where according to our best 
light from scripture is it to be understood here ? It must, in 
my judgment, be supposed before the heavenly saints can be 
seen as a complete body above, M'hich is in clia[)ter iv. The 
Lord will then have come and received the glorified saints, and 


given thera their place in the presence of God, before any of the 
judgments come on the world. Terrible things in righteousness 
are going to be enacted, but the saints will be above them all. 
The seals, and vials, and trumpets, have no terrors for them ; 
they call out from the glorified not trembling, but worship only. 
Nay, these risen ones will be occupied, it seems, about their 
brethren who are still in the midst of trial ; for there shall be 
saints called after the present work of God in forming the church 
is done with, brethren who will suffer on the earth after we are 
gone. Of these the central part of the Eevelation treats (chaps, 
vi. vii. viii. xi. xii. xiii. xiv. xv. xvi., &c.). Again there will be 
godly souls alive when the King comes to sit on the throne of 
His glory, and all the nations are gathered before Him, whom 
He will call " my brethren." As is plain in the latter part of 
Matt. XXV., the living Gentiles, or nations then on the earth, will 
be treated according to the way in which they may have behaved 
to the messengers of the King. The sheep will have proved 
themselves to liave faith in the King, because they have received 
His servants ; the conduct of the goats will have shewn their 
incredulity. For when all the preliminary warnings given to 
those on the earth are over ; when all the judgments that 
proceed from the throne in rapid succession have been proved 
to be in vain, and the rebellious hearts of men are only rising 
higher against God, the Lord says as it were, " I will send them 
no more chastenings, will wait no longer for a repentance 
which is refused, but will come myself and sweep them away to 
destruction." Accordingly this day of judgment on the quick 
we have in Eevelation xix. And the interval, from chapters 
iv. and v. to chapter xix., is filled by new dealings of God in 
providential judgments, by intermingled mercy to Jews and 
Gentiles, and by glances at the heavenly saints in the presence 
of God. 

No doubt the souls of dying saints go to God during the 
interval, but whatever may be the blessedness reserved for such 
(Eev. xiv. 13), the saints who are already changed remain there 
through the whole period. The heavenly saints, including those 
that are true Christians now, those that have been such before, 
and tlie Old Testament saints, may be caught up at any time to 

K 2 


be with the Lord. I know no scriptural ground which entitles 
a believer to say, He will not come to-morrow. Who can affirm 
with divine authority that there is something yet remaining to 
be done before, that there must be a delay ? No doubt there may 
be more or less time to intervene ; but scripture never puts the 
delay between us and Christ's coming, but before His day. As a 
servant with his hand upon the door, and on the stretch as it 
were for his master's arrival, so as to be able when he comes 
to open unto him immediately — such is the true attitude of 
the child of God now. So says our Lord Himself. He would 
have, if so we may speak, everything settled up. He looks for 
practical readiness at all times. Not as though we could do 
anything by way of preparation. Thanks be to God, He has 
made us meet through the grace of Christ. But there may be 
things in our ways and walk, in our spirit and hopes and objects, 
which will not stand the light of His presence. Whatever we 
do, we should seek to enter on nothing that renders the thought 
of the Lord's coming unwelcome. 

We must then, if wise, beware of speculations or plans which 
suppose us to have a long time before us. The Lord desires us 
to be as travellers passing through a foreign land, and withal 
going out in desire to meet Him who is speedily coming for us. 
The Lord may be a little longer than we think; but He is 
comine, and this too at an hour when men think not. His 
coming will immediately act on all the heavenly saints, raising 
the dead, clianging the living, and removing botli to Himself 
above. Then follow the scenes of Eev. iv. and v., which let us 
see the interest of the glorified saints in the righteous who 
suffer on the earth, after the others are gone to heaven. They 
cannot apply fully, either while only a part of the church is 
above and in the separate state ; or when the millennial reign 
is arrived. They suppose an interval between these two things, 
when the Lord will have come and changed them into His 
risen likeness, and before they accompany Him from heaven in 
order to judge and reign.* 

* It will 1)0 observed that this, if \vcll-fi)un(lud, decides the question of the 
true and proper application of the rest of the book. For what more weighty 
tliaii to know wliether it isi)eaks throughout ith tenlral vibions of tlie time 


Next we come to the earthly course of " the things that 
must be after these." The seals are not judgments executed by 
the Lord, but of a providential nature. Some, because of the 
white horse, have thought that the first seal applied to Christ. 
On tlie face of it, what more strange than to conceive Him so 
represented, seeing that He it is who, as the Lamb, opens the 
seals successively, and, when clearly alluded to under the con- 
tents of the sixth seal, still preserves the name of the Lamb ! 
And yet stranger that He should enter on a course of conquest 
at the very time, if you take it historically, when all Asia had 
turned away from Paul ; when Timothy had the sad and sure 
foreboding of evil men and seducers waxing worse and worse ; 
when John himself had written, or was about to write, " Little 
children, it is the last time : and as ye have heard that antichrist 
shall come, even now are there many antichrists ; whereby we 
know that it is the last time." Nevertheless most of the ancients 
and not a few moderns begin their comments with this false 

Some, again, refer it to the second advent ; but this quite 
upsets the order of the seals fixed by the Holy Ghost, and 
indeed the structure of all the book. It is true that in Rev. xix. 
where the "Lord comes judicially and in person. He is repre- 
sented as riding upon a white horse. But there is all the 
difference possible between that vision of the white horse and 
the opening of Rev. vi. This horse does not issue from heaven, 
as that in chap. xix. does. Next, there is not a word in chap. vi. 

during \Yhich the church is still on earth, or of the days which follow — the great 
crisis when the church is not here but risen, and God is dealing with the earth 
after another pattern? To say that it is given to us to know these visions proves 
nothing. All scripture is given to us and is gooA. for us, but it is certainly not 
all about us ; and we are most profited, not by the fancy that God is always 
thinking of us, but by really understanding its objects, scope, and end. Had 
Abraham imagined that he was to be involved in the impending catastrophe of 
Sodom because the Lord graciously revealed it to him before it came to pass, 
such a delusion would have done him harm. It was not to Lot who was there, 
but to Abraham who was not, that the fullest communication was made. And 
so it will be, I doubt not. A remnant is to be saved — saved as through fire. 
May our place be above it all — above the world in spirit now, and looking down 
upon its plans and progress with the abiding consciousness of a judgment that 
hastens — destined to be actually above when that judgment comes. 


about the rider, which Decessarily means Christ ; whereas in 
chap. xix. He is called Faithful and True, and said to judf^e and 
make war in righteousness. Of whom could this be said save 
of One ? Ilis eyes were as a flame of fire. His written name 
none know but Himself. The Word of God— King of kings, 
Lord of lords — can l)e the titles of none but Jesus. Not to 
speak of the blood-dipped vesture, the sword proceeding out of 
the mouth, the iron rod w^herewith to rule, and the treading 
the wine-press of divine wrath, are descriptions in chap. xix. 
to which nothing answers in the rider of chap. vi. No armies 
followed here, clothed in fine linen, &c. And though the rider 
is said to have a crown given to him, the word is quite different 
from that employed in chap, xix., which signifies a kingly diadem, 
the crown of royalty. The earlier Eomans were fond of a sort 
of chaplet, which did not to their mind, like the imperial diadem, 
convey the idea of absolute authority ; and that is the crown 
mentioned in chapter vi. 

Furthermore, there are two frequent figures or symbols used 
in scripture to express power; the one is the throne, and the other 
is the horse. Thus we have already seen the supreme throne 
above, and now we have the horse with the rider on earth. The 
same thing is seen in chaps, xix. and xx. The symbol of horses 
in the one chapter, and of thrones in the other. The difference 
between the bearing is this : When power is meant by putting 
down of rival or opposing authority on earth, "the horse" is 
taken, as from its use in war, it is intended to subdue ; but when 
the victory is won, and it is a question not of subjugation, but 
of governing and judging, "the throne" is used, as being the fit 
emblem of rule over those who have been thus subdued or are 
subject. When Christ is going to put down His enemies. He is 
seen in the vision of chap. xix. on the horse, used to represent 
the exertion of Plis power to subdue ; when the subsequent 
sway is meant, thrones appear in chap. xx. It would be quite 
weak, of course, for persons to confound this symbolic use with 
a material horse or throne. The idea of the former is power to 
subdue, and of the latter is dominion after the victory has been 
gained. The throne may also be used, as it is afterwards, for the 
r.olcmn and et(M'n:d judgment of the dead — a throne of stainless 


holiness. Still even here, it is Christ's judgment before the 
kingdom is given up to God. (1 Cor. xv. ; 2 Tim. iv.) 

Of course we cannot apply the four horses and their riders to 
the great empires, three of which had long disappeared. Equally 
untenable at least is the notion that four successive religions 
are intended, especially when one hears it gravely laid down 
that Infidelity closes the list, which primitive Christianity opens, 
followed by Mahomedanism and Popery. It is hard to say 
whether such thoughts are most opposed to time or place, to 
congruity or context. Again, it is agreed that it is harsh in the 
extreme, and in almost every point of view, to understand the 
first seal of Christ or the church in early gospel triumphs, and 
then the three subsequent ones of the Eoman empire or emperors. 

But it is important here to notice, that there is positive ground 
from the Apocalypse itself to deny the assumption that the horse 
means the Eoman empire. I do not refer to passages like chapter 
ix. 17, where literal cavalry seem to be meant; but chapter xix. 
furnishes an example of its symbolic use. Does the Lord on the 
white horse mean His direction of the Koman empire ? Or the 
white horses of the linen-clad hosts, do they imply imperial 
powers? Surely we must look for an interpretation more in 
keeping with its usage elsewhere. It. means, in my judgment, 
a militant aggresive agency towards the earth, though it may be 
from heaven. Hence, as in Zech. i., it may apply to the Lord, 
or to the various imperial powers which succeeded Babylon. 
And so the chariots with the horses of various colours in Zech. 
vi. But as distinguished from the horns (chapter i. 19), the 
former symbol rather refers to the providential instruments 
behind the scene, and connected especially with these empires, 
than to the rulers themselves or their realms. Plainly therefore 
there is no ground from the book itself or from Zechariah, to 
which the allusion is obvious, to interpret the horse simply of 
the Eoman empire. 

IsTor is there better ground in profane history to maintain that 
the horse is the special sign of that people and power. And no 
wonder. Por the Eoman infantry was more characteristic of 
their military power than their cavalry. No doubt the horse 
abounds on their medals, but not more comparatively than 


among other warlike nations, particularly in the east, who so 
set forth their victories. It had formerly been one of the 
Eoman standards of war, but for two centuries before Domitian 
all the varieties had given way to the eagle. 

Abstractly, then, the horse cannot be regarded as the necessary 
national badge of Eome, or emblem of the Eoman empire. 
Whether it be referred to here must depend on contextual 
considerations. And here it appears to me that the fourth seal 
rises up conclusively against such a view, the four seals being 
providential judgments homogeneous in character but differing 
in form. The Eoman earth may be the sphere, but this has 
nothing to do with the symbolic force of the horse in the 

Without further discussion let me state my own view. We 
have a regular series of providential judgments. The first is 
the white horse, the symbol of triumphant and prosperous 
power. "He that sat on him had a bow" (verse 2). The bow 
is the symbol of distant warfare.* His course is evidently that 
of unchecked victory. The moment he appears, he conquers. 
The battle is won without a struggle, and apparently without 
the carnage of the second judgment, where the sword, the 
symbol of close hand-to-hand fighting, is used. But this first 
conqueror is some mighty one who sweeps over the earth, and 
gains victory after victory by the prestige of his name and 
reputation. There is no intimation of slaughter here. 

But the second judgment is of a more appalling character. 
There went out a horse that was red, and the one who sits upon 
him is not the proudly prosperous victor to whom people tamely 
submit, but one who, if he wins, waves his standard over heaps 
of slain. Accordingly, he has a blood-red horse — the symbol 
of power connected with frightful carnage. The result of the 
first seal {i.e. of the victorious career of the white-horse rider) 
may have been peace and comparatively bloodless changes ; but 

* The ingenuity of Mr. E.'s attempt to make out in tho bow an allusion to 
the Cretan origin of Nerva's ancestry is undeniaWe. Y'et even if one admitted 
a more precise reference to past history than I conceive to be intended, I am 
convinced that tho meaning of the symbols is not to be sought in recondite 
points of antiquarian research, but rather on tho surface, or at least in the broad 
and natural features of the scriptural portrait. 


all is sanguinary under the second seal (ver. 4). The fiery-red 
horse, the peace taken from the earth, the mutual slaughter, the 
great sword, are tokens too plain to be misunderstood. 

The third horse is black, the hue of mourning. It is a colour 
chosen to shew that there must next follow peculiar sorrows, 
caused not now by bloodshed, but by scarcity, and perhaps, we 
may add, to man's feeling, a most capricious famine.*'' Here we 

* It is almost incredible the amount of discussion, if not of careful research, 
which has been expended on this verse, and especially on the import of " a 
measure of wheat for a penny" {i.e., a choenix, or about \\ pint English, for a 
denarius, or about 8d. of our money). Is a time of scarcity or abundance in- 
dicated ? Or does the verse proclaim an authoritative adjustment of a due 
average price ? It appears to me that, (1) occurring as the third seal does in a 
series of providential judgments; such a question ought not to have been raised 
by the least enlightened reader ; for, in such a connexion, how incongruous the 
idea of plenty or a fair price! And (2) are not these thoughts particularly 
contradicted by the details of the seal in question, as e.ff. by the black or mourn- 
ing colour of the horse, and by the balances in the hand of the rider? (Compare 
with the last Lev. xxvi. 26.) The facts of the case are on the whole plain and 
decisive. Thus from Cicero's Orations, we learn that the Senate estimated 
wheat at four serterces the modius (= 8 times the choenix) ; and, what is more 
important, that the then market price in Sicily was two serterces, or at most 
three. " Hoc reprehendo, quod, cum in Sicilia IIS II tritici modius esset . . . 

. . summum HS ternis tum iste pro tritici modiis singulis ternos ab 

aratoribus denario exegit." (In Verr. Act. ii. lib. iv. 81.) The inference is 
that the extortion was, say, half the Apocalyptic price. Again, it is allowed that 
the ordinary price under the Emperor Julian and his successors {i.e., long after 
St. John) was moderate. From the Misopogon it seems that the price of the 
modius was then about 12d. of our money, and therefore the choenix = l^d. or 
less than a fifth of the Apocalyptic rate. But it is argued from a passage in the 
Natural History of the elder Pliny (lib. xviii. 10), that in his time, which was 
a little before the Apocalyjjse was written, the medium price of wheat was about 
the same as in the text. This would be the more extraordinary, not only as 
opposed to Roman experience both before and after, but also because that 
laborious compiler does not speak of the prices then current as extravagant. 
"We know that in nothing are MSS. less to be relied on than in numerals. 
Besides it would seem that several elements more or less mistaken have con- 
curred to perplex the case. " The comparison of ancient and modern prices of 
com is a difficult subject, and the results hitherto obtained are unsatisfactory." 
{Enr/lish Cyclopcedia, Arts and Sciences, vol. iii. col. 251.) It is well known 
that Dr. Arbuthnot's tables no longer carry their former authority, and that 
modern scholars reject some of his premises, and most of his conclusions. Now 
it was on his computations chiefly that the author of the Home Apoe. depended. 
But (1) if I understand Pliny, he speaks in the passage cited, not of the price of 
bread, but of flour, which then cost forty asses the modius. But it would 


have the voice proclaiming (ver. 6), " A choenix of wheat for a 
denarius, and three choenixes of barley for a denarius ; and see 
that thou hurt not the oil and the wine." The penny in our 
country would give the idea of something insignificant in value, 
but in those times and lands, a choenix of wheat for a denarius 
was very costly ; for not long before men could procure seven or 
eight choenixes for the money. A denarius was given for the 
daily wage, and was barely enough for a man's daily food ; for 
the choenix of wheat appears to have been a minimum, being 
the allowance given to a slave. But while there should be this 
scarcity of the very staff of life, tliere was a command not to 
touch the luxuries of life, the oil and the wine. What the richer 
classes requ.ire was not to be touched, but only what people 
want of the prime necessaries of life. God is laying His hand 
upon the world. 

Yet such events as these might happen in ordinary times. 
There might be some great conqueror any time, and this might 
be followed by bloody struggles ; and this again by famine, &c. 
And in the fourth seal we have God's four sore plagues let loose 

appear that the similago or flour spoken of was by no moans coarse, thoupfh 
there might be finer; for out of n pock of wheat came hut a half peck of this 
flour, with a large residue of pollen, coarse meal, and bran. (2) There is no 
evidence that I am aware of in St. John's time to set aside the common Attic 
choenix, which was the eighth (not the fourth) part of a modius or peck. The 
verses of Fannius Ehemnius are not forgotten, nor the reading which Facciolati 
and others prefer, which reduces the quantum of the choenix one half, and thus 
harmonizes with other authors. And why were they cited if it be another scale, 
seeing that he lived a considerable time after not St. John only, but even the 
epoch to which the Protestant liistorical school would refer the accomplishment of 
the third sealr' (3) The denarius, no doubt, in very early times equalled ten asMs, 
whence the name was derived ; but it is notorious that about the second Punic 
war, B.C. 214, it was by law made equivalent to sixteen assen, save in military 
pay, fiines, &c., which were reckoned by the old standard. Who or what will 
the reader suppose is our authority for this? The very same work of Pliny 
(lib. xxxiii. 3). Nay, more, in the same chapter wr are informed that, forty 
years later, the Papyrian law reduced the as one half. It is absolutely 
necessary to bear in mind these extensive changes in order to avoid the astound- 
ing rosidts in which Dr. A. lands his followers. The true inference, it seems to 
me, is that the price in the Revelation shews decided and painful scarcity, as it 
exceeds that of the Cassian law eight times, and the actual Sicilian market price 
of Cicero's day yet more (xii. 76). It seems about as fair to cite on the one 
side the starvation price related by Ciusar {Dc Bell. Civ. i. 52), as the poetical 


together, the sword, famine, death, and pestilence, and the wild 
beasts of the earth, but here limited to a fourth part. They 
are but preparatory chastisements as yet. "And behold a pale 
horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hades 
followed with him" (verse 8). In Ezekiel xiv. you will find that 
these four same things are mentioned together in connexion with 
Israel. In these first judgments God does not proceed to any very 
extraordinary measures. A conqueror is no rare thing in the earth, 
a bloody and perhaps civil war not uncommon. These might 
be followed by a famine, and that naturally enough might breed 
pestilence, &c. Thus man would account for these things, and 
the wise are cauglit in their own craftiness. But we know 
before, through God's word, that there is a time of conquest 
coming — then of bloody warfare — next of dearth — and lastly of 
the outpouring of God's sore plagues. The heavenly saints must 
be set in rest and peace in the presence of God — the church 
must be safely sheltered before these judgments begin. 

The next scene, under the fifth seal, is a remarkable one. 
The living creatures drop their cry of " Come," * which was 

licence of Martial on the other. There is hardly a siege or a lengthened cam- 
paign, even now, without raising the price to a degree that would be fabulous 
under other circumstances. The adulteration of the denarius under the second 
Sever us to a third of its original value is deemed by Mr. E. to set right his great 
difficulty in the price of the wheat. But the question is as to its value in 
exchange. Wheat must be excessively dear, if a man could not do more than 
procure a quart for his day's labour. Nor would there be any disposition to 
employ labourers, if the prices of provisions were such that a man's daily wages 
were swallowed up in buying five or six lbs. of barley. The ratio of the barley 
to the wheat is, I admit, singular, as it was and is usually one-half, instead of 
a third . In Home, however, wheat was the food of men, barley of horses ; and 
it was a military penalty to use barley. According to Seneca a slave's monthly 
allowance then consisted of five modii [= 40 choenixcs), and five denarii. Under 
the emperors Roman citizens (save senators) received corn gratuitously, and the 
tessera was inherited, bequeathed, or sold. For such to buy at the price prescribed 
must press heavily indeed. Jerome's interpretation of Eusebius' Chronicon 
puts the modius at six drachmae or denarii, during the famine in Greece in the 
eighth or ninth year of the Emperor Claudius. Syncellus doubles this, which 
Scaliger prefers. It is but fair to add that the Armenian text edited by P. J. 
B. Aucher (ii. 153, 193, Ven. 1818) confirms this emendation. 

* It may be well to mention in this note my opinion that the words " and 
see" (which, according to the common text and the authorised version, follow 
" ComeW in the call of the four living creatures) appear to be an interpolation. 


connected only with external judgments in providence. But 
now we have a series of events somewhat different. The fifth 
seal discloses that God has a people on earth still. Who are 
these that are suffering now ? The prophet sees their souls under 
the altar, where they are as holocausts offered up. Though dead, 
they yet speak. They were slain because of the word of God, 
and because of their testimony. Man after that has no more 
that he can do. They call for retribution ; for after the Lord has 
taken home His heavenly saints, He will begin to call earthly 
ones. They will not of course be born again by a different Spirit, 
but they will be called to a different path, and will not know 
God in the same full and near way wherein He reveals Himself 
to us now, and as we ought to know Him. These saints wall have 
" the Spirit of prophecy." Such was the mode the Holy Ghost 
wrought in the Old Testament saints. The effect of the Spirit 
of prophecy was that they were waiting for Christ to come 
for the accomplishment of promise and prophecy ; and so these 
saints will wait for Christ to appear in glory. All their hopes 
hang on Him, who is to be their deliverer from circumstances of 
such excessive sorrow. 

Not thus do we expect Christ for ourselves. We have rest in 
Him now. Thougli surely looking for Christ to come, we have 
present connnuniou with Him in peace, and tlie title, whether 
slain or not, always to rejoice in Him. It does not become 
Christians when persecuted to say, " Plow long, Lord, holy 
and true, dost thou not judge, and avenge our blood?" Stephen 

In the case of the .second (verse 3) there is no difference of judgment among 
critical editors of the least note ; but, strange to say, Griesbach and Scholz 
retain the ordinary sense in the last two, and, in the first case of all, Knapp 
along with them. Buttmann, Hahn, Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregclles 
omit the words unifonnly, and, as I think, with reason. The difference as to 
interpretation would be this : as the text. rec. stands, it is a call from each li^^ng 
creature to John ; but if they merely cry " Come," it would seem to be a 
direct address to the riders on the several horses, who accordingly come forth 
at their bidding. The connection of the living creatures with the action of the 
horsemen in providence is made clearer and stronger by this little change. 
Besides, it entirely precludes such remarks as those of Mr. A. Jenour in his 
Rationale Apocalypticum, vol. i. pp. 214-217. That ipx^v refers to chapter 
xxii. 17, 22, and means the groaning of creation or a prayer forChi-ist's coming, 
is quite wrong. Why should any of these bo "as a voice of thunder?" That 
the call of divines providence should be so heard is natural. * 


" cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." 
Such also is the only right and suitable prayer for the saints of 
the heavenly calling. 

But here the sufferers are on different ground. They take up 
the position, and express the sentiments described in the Psalms, 
which call for divine vengeance. Hence such as think that the 
Psalms are intended to convey our place and proper feelings as 
Christians find great difficulty in understanding the language of 
imprecation that is used in them. It is an error so to apply them ; 
for " what the law saith, it saith to them that are under the 
law" is the apostle's comment after quoting from the Psalms. 
(Eom. iii.) But when the church is removed, God — from His 
place on the throne — will pour out the judgments described in 
this prophecy ; and then it is that these Psalms fully apply. 
God deals in mercy now : then it will be earthly judgment. 
When these visions are really accomplishing, God will shew not 
as now the exceeding riches of His grace, but the exceeding- 
terrors of His righteous wrath : and so when that day comes, 
and men are yet heedless, the saints living or dying say, " How 
long, Lord," &c. 

"And a white robe was given unto each one of them" (verse 
11). That is, vindication has been accorded them, though they 
do not take their place on thrones till chapter xx. Disembodied 
spirits are never said to sit there. We do not read of spirits 
glorified, but of bodies, when they enter on their destined blessed- 
ness abov^e. They will reign with Christ. Thus, after the church 
is gone, there will be persons who witness for God here below, 
but taking up totally different language — the claim of retribu- 
tion and not long-suffering grace. It was a holy duty once to 
exterminate the Canaanites; it would be far from a Christian's 
place now. How unbecoming for us, if God would shew mercy ! 
But when He introduces His kingdom by judgments, that con- 
duct will be right and suitable which would not now be in season. 
When God sees that the due moment is arrived for the earth to 
be chastised and judged, it will be a holy thing to take part in 
it. But if the Christian were to occupy himself in judging bad 
people on the earth now, he would be doing what the Lord is 
not doing — nay, the very reverse of what engages Him. He is 


now at work in marvels of grace, and thus all who understand 
Him will be acting in the same spirit. 

The tremendous convulsion (verse 12) of the sixth seal comes 
apparently in answer to the prayer of the saints who are con- 
cerned. The language at the close of the chapter shews that the 
powers and instruments high or low of the persecuting world 
received an earnest of their doom, as truly as the slain ones in 
the seal before have their recognition in part before they inherit 
the kingdom. Their blood, we may say, cried to the Lord of 
Sabaoth. They lived unto God, and shall surely rise again ; but 
they must wait. Another class of martyrs must yet be made up. 
" It was said to them that they should rest yet a little space, 
until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should 
be killed even as they, should be completed." No account of the 
killing of these saints appears here : we must seek for this in 
other and subsequent parts of the book. The earlier sufferers 
meanwhile enjoy the result of righteousness, and are owned of 
God ; but they are to await the fillhig up of a new and distinct 
band of martyred brethren, who are to suffer up to the close. 
Then retribution will come. Iniquity must reach its height and 
do its worst ere the hour of full divine judgment. Another and 
final outburst of persecution must precede. But mark here also 
that no such hope is held out to a single individual as the Lord's 
translating them without passing through death. 

We have stated that the heavenly saints (that is, the dead in 
Christ, and we who remain to the coming of the Lord) have 
already been taken from the earth, as chapter iv. had shown, the 
fifth chapter adding another thing, that while they are above, 
there are righteous persons on earth in whose prayers the risen 
saints are interested. That is to say, those above are found in 
the place of intercession ; and there is nothing sweeter than 
that place — nothing in which we are ])ractically brought nearer 
to Christ, save; in our immediate relationship to Himself The 
church is destined to have that privilege in glory, as we have it 
now in grace for all men (1 Tim. ii.) — the privilege of inter- 
cession for others still in trial on the earth. The church will 
take the deepest concern in their sorrows, blessings, and hopes. 
But who are these sufferers on earth ? In chap. vi. 9,. as we 


have seen, there was a dreadful slaughter of the saints. They 
cried with a loud voice, and we are permitted with and through 
St. John to hear their cry. They appeal to God as the Sovereign 
and arbiter of every soul. " How long, Lord, the holy and 
true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that 
dwell on the eartli ?" Evidently this is not a Christian cry: I 
do not say it will not be a believing one, but suited to their 
circumstances and to the then dealings of God. People are so 
narrow that they think a person can never be a believer without 
being a Christian. It is quite true that now a believer is, of 
course, a Christian. Even the babes know the Father. " Who- 
soever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father ; he that 
acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also." But in divine 
things we ought always to gather our thoughts and our language 
from scripture, not from our own imagination. Now, though 
Abraham and all the Old Testament saints were born of tlie 
Spirit, yet they were not Christians in a proper New Testa- 
ment sense. For a Christian is not only one who has faith in 
Christ, but one to whose faith Christ dead and risen has been 
presented by God, and who has, consequently, the Holy Ghost 
uniting him to Christ in heaven. But this was not and could 
not be till Christ had come and finished the work of redemp- 
tion. They had the new birth no doubt, for to be born again 
does not necessarily imply that the work of atonement had 
been previously accomplished ; but still there is a difference of 
position into which the accomplished work, and the consequent 
presence of tlie Spirit during Christ's absence in heaven, has 
brought us. 

From those under tlie altar, then, we do not hear Christian 
accents, but that which reminds us of the state and feelings 
revealed of old. From the time that the Lord Jesus came into 
the world, and went up on high, as the rejected One now glori- 
fied — from that time the sufferings of Christ as the righteous 
witness for God, and in perfect grace to man, become, so to 
speak, reproduced in His people. The Holy Ghost puts them in 
sympathy with Christ. What was in a measure true before was 
now the appointed portion for the saints. None but Christ could 
possibly know suffering from God for bearing sin. But part of 


the suffering even of the cross was because Christ was put there 
through the wickedness of men : another and a far deeper part 
was, tliat He was put there by the grace of God for the vindi- 
cation of His holiness, and the deliverance of the sinner. In 
the last He suffered for us ; in the first we may and should suffer 
with Him. Hence, the apostle Paul did not hesitate to say, 
" That I may know him . . . and the fellowship of his sufferings, 
being made conformable unto his death." A Christian might 
share the sufferings of Christ, in the sense of being cast out even 
unto death. The apostle himself had it often literally before 
him in this way. (See 2 Cor. i. iv.) He knew the fellowship of 
Christ's sufferings ; Stephen knew the same. 

Such is not this cry. Here the sufferers were under the deep 
feeling of the wrong that was done to them, and they called 
only for the judgment of God. How different the state of things 
when persons, instead of shrinking from prison and from judg- 
ment, thanked God and went away full of joy, because they 
were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus ! Is 
this what we get here ? No doubt, the world is as unrighteous as 
ever ; but is there not something more blessed now than appeals 
to God to deal with the world as the world has dealt with us ? 
This was the state of things when men had to do with the law ; 
as the principle of righteous retribution will appear again in the 
millennial day, when they will have the law written on their 
hearts. As far as the moral import (SiKaiwyxa) of the law is con- 
ceriieil, (!od makes that good in His peoi>le now. But there is 
anotlier principle wliich is being displayctl now in every form ; 
for God's grace is going out to the lost. Christ's death is the 
greatest manifestation of that grace, and the Holy Ghost works 
after this pattern in the hearts of His people. But the cry 
under the fifth seal is that sin may be laid to the charge of their 
oppressors, and vengeance taken accordingly. This is righteous- 
ness, but not grace. Let us bear in mind, however, tliat God 
does not allow us to take up a righteous or a gracious cry just 
when we like. We are always wrong wlien, under suffering from 
the world, a gracious cry is not brought out by the blow. When 
we have to do with one another, we are entitled to look for godly 
and righteous ways from Christians : indeed, it is part of the 


character of a Christian to feel what is wrong, as well as to value 
what is right. (Eom. xii.) But there should always be power to 
rise above evil, and to bring out Christ to meet it, whether it be 
in the way of discipline for those within, or of intercession for 
those that are without. God is dealing in perfect grace, and so 
should we, with the world. 

Here, in the seals and sequel of the Revelation, it is another 
state of things God is judging in a preparatory way for His 
people; it is another order of relationship, not that in which He 
has set us till the Lord receives us to Himself. Accordingly 
it is the Jewish expectation of deliverance through God's 
destruction of the adversaries, not the Christian's hope of 
removal out of the scene to heaven. Eighteous vengeance is 
invoked on those that dwell on the earth. Not that vindictive- 
ness is implied, but assuredly it is not practical grace. They 
look therefore for God to judge, instead of longing, as we should 
do, for Christ to come and take us to Himself. " The Spirit and 
the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come." 

Eemark, that the word used here for " Lord" is not the one 
that is generally employed ; but the same term occurs in Ijuke 
ii. 29, Acts iv. 24, Jude 4. It means the Lord as "sovereign 
master." It is also used in 2 Peter ii. 1 : " Even denying the 
Lord that bought them." We have not here the nearness in 
which we know Him as " our Lord," but the general authorita- 
tive relation in which the Lord is the Master of the whole 
world — of all men, whether bad or good. It is never said that 
those who know Christ by the Holy Ghost can deny the Lord 
who bought them. 

However that may be, the appeal is answered by the throes 
of nature universally, presenting in symbols to the prophet's 
eye what was coming. "And I beheld when he opened the 
sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun 
became black as sackcloth of hair, and the whole moon became 
as blood ; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a 
fig-tree casteth its untimely figs, when it is shaken by a mighty 
wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled 
together; and every mountain and island were moved out of 
their places" (verses 12-14). The heavens are convulsed from 



one end to the other; the stars fall, &c., evidently, as it seems 
to me, in the vision only. " And the kings of the earth, and 
the great men, and the chieftains, and the rich, and the mighty, 
and every bondman and free man, hid themselves in the dens 
and in the rocks of the mountains ; and they say to the 
mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of 
him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the 
Lamb: for the great day of his* wrath is come; and who is 
able to stand ?" (verses 15-17.) Ev^ery class of men is in 
agitation through these impending judgments. It is not really 
the great day of the Lamb's wrath, yet people think that it is. 
They fear that the last day is already come. 

An idea has prevailed with many that this seal represents the 
epiphany of the Lord in judgment at the end of the age. This 

* The Vulgate with good authority, as we have seen, has " their" wrath (ip- 
sorum, not ipsius). But I take this opportunity of saying that, invaluable as the 
best Latin copies are as a support of ancient and excellent readings, it seems a 
perilous thing to throw aside all the MSS. and every other version, and all the 
early writers save those who merely echo the Vulgate, as Mr. Elliott does in 
following its "quattuor partes" (verse 8). There is really no ground but the 
exigencies of his system. To square with facts, according to his application, it 
should have been not the fourth, but the whole of the Roman empire. Hence 
Jerome's manifest oversight is adopted, and it is argued that he must have had 
ancient witnesses now lost ! But this is most unreasonable when we see that 
Jerome is often loose. To take this chapter alone, is it pretended that " vocem," 
in vferse 1, the omission of " et," in verse 2, "singulae," in verse 9, "insulae," 
in verse 14, rest on original authority? Are they not evidently due to mere 
laxity of rendering? And why impute "quattuor partes" to a higher source? 
The wonder is that we have not some of the later Greek manuscripts influenced 
by the Latin in verse 8, as perhaps 26 was in verses 1 and 2. We know there 
are stupendous blunders occasionally in the best copies of the Vulgate, as in 
1 Cor. XV. 51 ; Heb. xi. 21. Why give it a place in this verse, which is not 
claimed for it in any other verse of Old or New Testament? Besides, is it 
according to tho analogy of this book, or of any other book, to speak of " four 
parts," if the entire empire were intended ? The attempted historical answer 
of quadripartition seems to mo extremely meagre. - Thin, of course, is matter of 
opinion. But it is serious when the author is so'enuuiourod of his theory as to 
bid his readers " well mark that if the prophecy here diiTor from the history, it 
differs from, and is inconsistent with, itself also : seeing that the whole horse is 
depicted with the pale death-like hue, not its fourth pari only." — II. A., i. 201. 
This is bolder than man ought to be with God's word, unless there were infinitely 
graver grounds against tho text. The inference from the horse I have, I think, 
shewn to be unsound. 


has disposed them to understand the description as a literal 
account of the heavenly and earthly changes which accompany 
that great event. But there is no solid foundation for such 
thoughts. In the first place, the seventh seal is not yet opened, 
so that the end it cannot be, even if one adopted the system 
which supposes the trumpets to be a rehearsal from another 
point of view. Again, not a word occurs alluding to the presence 
of the Lord. There is a great earthquake ; but the appearing of 
Jesus is incomparably more serious than any possible commotion 
in the world. The difference is manifest, if we compare these 
verses with chap. xix. 11-21 of this book, and with 1 Thess. v. ; 
2 Thess. i. ; Luke xvii. 24-37, &c. Not to speak of the sixth 
trumpet, under the seventh vial (which must surely be owned 
as at least not earlier than the sixth seal) there is an earthquake, 
of which the Holy Ghost speaks in still stronger terms. Yet we 
know that this is before the day of the Lord ; for all admit 
that the vials are poured out before He comes as a thief And 
d .fortiori why not the sixth seal ? Had these convulsions been 
given under tlie seventh seal, there might have seemed more 
tenable ground : as it is there is really none. 

There is also this marked difference between our seal and the 
passages in Matthew xxiv., Mark xiii., and Luke xxi., with which 
some would connect it, that in the latter the Son of man is ex- 
pressly said to be seen coming in the clouds of heaven with 
power and great glory, in the former, as has been remarked, 
there is not a trace of it. It is represented under the seal, that 
all men in their terror say to the mountains and rocks, (is this 
literal, after they had been moved out of their places ?) " Fall 
on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, 
and from the wrath of the Lamb : for the great day of his * wrath 
is come ; and who is able to stand ?" But it is a revelation, not 
of that which God declares about the time or circumstances, but 
of men's alarm and its effect on their consciences. To take what 
John saw in the vision as so many physical realities, to be then 
verified in the literal sun, moon, stars, and heaven, is, I think, 

* The Sinai MS., the palimpsest of Paris, and the excellent Vatican cursive, 
conventionally known as 38, with the Vulgate and Syriac, read aiiTiuv, 
" their : " which admirably fits in with the context. 

L 2 


an opinion adopted \vithoiit due consideration. Would there, 
could there, be need for any to invoke the fall of the mountains 
and rocks, if the stars really fell unto the earth ? Could men or 
the globe survive such a shock ? Besides, it is plain that the 
description alludes at any rate to passages in the Old Testament, 
such as Isa. xiii., xxxiv. ; Ezek. xxxii. 7, 8, and Joel ii. Now 
the last distinctly states that the signs therein predicted are 
before the great and terrible day of the Lord come, and the first 
had its accomplishment in the past fall of Babylon, though there 
be also types of a more solemn and universal catastrophe at the 

All this is to my mind decisive that the sixth seal, according 
to its natural place in the prophecy, in no way means the great 
day of the Lord, but sets forth, first in figures and then in simple 
language, an overwhelming revolution which overthrows existing 
institutions and governmental order. The authorities, supreme, 
dependent, and subordinate, are broken up. The shock is uni- 
versal. They think the last reckoning is come. Not the Lord, 
but their bad and affrighted consciences call it the day of His 
wrath. But when that day does come (as in chapter xix.), they 
are bold as lions. The very frequency of divine judgment acts 
upon the hard hearts of men ; and so, though the trumpets have 
yet to blow, and the judgments become more and more intense, 
yet when the Lord conies in person, instead of calling on the 
mountains to cover them, they are found fighting against Him- 
self When their consciences were not so hardened, they were 
alarmed ; but when the great day arrives, they are in open re- 
bellion against Christ. What a thing is the heart of man ! and 
what an infinite mercy which has brought us, not in the thought 
of His wrath — though the Lord grant that this may be used to 
awaken some souls — but by His grace to enjoy the peace He 
has made by the blood of His cross ! He will have us also in 
the full fruition of our heavenly blessedness, when all these 
judgments are passing beneath us. To be above in the presence 
of Him who will then direct and at last execute all needful 
infliction — this is to be our portion. The Lord grant that we 
may walk in His grace now, not dragged down into the spirit 
of the world, nor standing for our own riLrhts. Alas ! if sinful 


men begin to talk about their I'ights, let them remember that in 
the sight of God the only thing they have a right to is to be 
lost for ever. If He dealt with us on that ground, when — how 
— could we be saved ? But He has forgiven us all our wrongs, 
and has given us the joy of standing for His rights. May we 
be true to Him and to His cross ! 



The careful reader of the Revelation will have noticed tliat this 
chapter does not perform any part, properly speaking, of the 
course of events. That is to say, it is neither one of tlie seals, 
nor of the trumpets, nor of the vials. We liave not finished 
tlie seals yet. In the sixth chapter we have had six seals, and 
there is a seventh that comes before us in chapter viii. What 
then is the meaning of chapter vii.? It is an interval — a sort of 
parenthesis in these events — that occurs between the sixth and 
seventh seals. Under the sixth seal there is a frightful catas- 
trophe among kings and subjects, high and low, calling to the 
rocks and mountains to fall on them, and hide tliem from the 
wrath of the Lamb. To their minds His day was come. 

On the other hand, when He opens the seventh seal (chap, 
viii.), there is silence in heaven about the space of half-an- 
hour : so that the whole of chap. vii. is no link in the regular 
chain of the liistory foreseen. Yet this apparent interruption of 
historic sequence is just as orderly as the formally numbered 
series of the judgments, because all that God does is perfect : 
every detail is lixed witli the greatest care and nicety. What 
confirms this is that, when we come to the seven trumpets, tlie 
sixth trumpet is given in chap. ix. and the seventh does not 
appear till chap. xi. 15 ; so that the whole of chap. x. and the 
larger part of chap. xi. form a great parenthetic revelation of 
events, similar to what we have in the chapter before us. In- 
deed to me it is still more remarkable in the trumpets; for you 
will observe in chap. ix. 12 it is said, " One woe is past, and 
behold there come two woes," &c.; and then we have the sixth 
angel sounding, and the description of the Euphratean horsemen. 
But it is not till chap. xi. 14 that " the second woe is past," 
evidently referring to the Euphratean horsemen mentioned before 


in chap. ix. So that the whole scene of the mighty angel 
coming down from heaven, of the little book tliat was to be 
taken and eaten by the seer, of the temple and worshippers 
measured, of the court and city abandoned for forty-two months, 
of the two witnesses, their testimony, death, resurrection, and 
ascension, — all this forms part of the striking episode. Thus, 
as there is a parenthesis between the sixth and seventh seals, 
there is an exactly corresponding one between the sixth and 
seventh trumpets; and not only so, but we have something 
analogous in the vials. If you look at the sixth vial (chap. xvi. 
12), you will find there is an interruption between it and the 
seventh. P'irst the water of the great river Euphrates is dried 
up, that the way of the kings from the East might be prepared, 
and then we have a totally different subject. " I saw three 
unclean spirits .... they are the spirits of demons;" and 
then, distinct again from this, " Behold, I come as a thief. 
Blessed is he that watcheth," &c. This is a brief but singular 
parenthesis, containing both the account of the evil and the Lord's 
coming in judgment on it. I only refer to it now for the pur- 
pose of shewing that there is nothing but what is laid down 
with the most astonishing precision of purpose in God's word, 
and in this book, it may l)e added, conspicuously. 

Taken up at first sight, the Eevelation may appear all a maze ; 
but it is not so really ; for the impression arises from ignorant 
haste or from incapacity to discern. The fact is, that people 
bring certain feelings or wishes with them to the book, instead 
of waiting in the desire to know what God thinks and speaks 
to them in it. Let us take the highest ground of faith for the 
word of God, and maintain that the Holy Ghost is the only 
power for understanding any part of that word. Whether for a 
man's soul, for his salvation and hopes, for his practical guidance, 
either individually or corporately, for his ways in the church or 
in the world, for his instruction as to the worship and the service 
of God, or even as to his relative duties on earth, whatever it be, 
there is divine light for every step of the way; and the only 
reason why we do not all see it is, because we have not the 
single eye which faith produces. It is faith that receives the 
blessing; and I believe that, as it is ever true that "according to 


thy faith so be it unto thee," it will also be blindness according 
to the measure of unbelief The Lord always gives what faith 
counts on from Himself; unbelief inevitably finds the barren- 
ness that it deserves. 

In this chapter, however, it had long been a difficulty how 
there could be here the sealing of a body of elect Jews and 
the vision of an innumerable company of spared Gentiles, when 
their blessing only comes at a later part of the book. * But the 
moment I learnt that it was all a parenthesis, and that the actual 
time when the sealed remnant of Israel and the saved Gentiles 
come into public action and take their place upon the stage is 
another thing altogether, that difficulty was at an end. God for 
our comfort, while the judgments are going on, allows the curtain 
to part for a little moment, and we see that they are all safe 
under His eye and ready to be manifested in due time. But 
when they come publicly into view is another question. In 
chapter xiv. there is a body spoken of, 144,000, of whom the 
Lamb is the centre, and these stand with Him on mount Zion, 
having His name and His Father's name v.'ritten on tlieir fore- 
heads. That body is evidently similar to, though not tlie same 
as, the 144,000 that we have here ; and perhaps also we may 
compare, but nut identify, the "nations" in Eev. xxi. 24-26 with 
the countless host of Gentiles here. Still more striking is the 
resemblance to the sheep of Matt, xxv., because these are not 
merely the blessed Gentiles of the millennial day, but had stood 
the test during the interval of grievous trial which preceded it. 

* Not many of my readora will bo more disposed than myself to accept Mr. 
Elliott's way of accounting for the occurrence of the sealing and palm-bearing 
visions at this particular time. Augustine, the celebrated Bishop of Hippo, 
flourished at the date to which he applies the sixth seal, or rather its conse- 
quences ! Mr. E. has culled from his copious writings whatever might be sup- 
posed to strengthen this far-fetched idea ; and certainly it would be strange if 
in so large a field he did not find abundance to his hand. But when he begs 
" the reader to pause and consider with himself, whether he can possibly imagine 
any two symbolic figurations that would more exactly sj-mbolize the doctrinal 
revelations uiade to Augustine than those that were exhibited at the exactly 
correspondent epoch in the Patmos visions to the representative man St. John," 
I must answer that I think if the vision of the holy city Jerusalem had been 
inserted after the sealing and instead of the palm-bearers, Mr. E. would have 
sung yet louder in praise of so marvellous a foreshadowing of Augustine's great 
work Li Civitate I)vi. Let the candid reader judge. 


And observe that the sheep in that passage are distinguished 
from the King's brethren who have a position yet nearer to Him- 
self — Jewisli saints who, after the church is taken to heaven, 
will be entrusted with the gospel of the kingdom, which is to 
be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations before 
the end comes. Thus, in Matt. xxv. 31-46, Israelitish brethren 
of the King, just before the close, test the Gentiles, who at His 
appearing are summoned before His throne, and discriminated 
as blessed or cursed, their faith or unbelief being proved by the 
way they had carried themselves towards the messengers of the 
coming kingdom in the time of their sorrowful testimony. 
Millions of the nations will be born during the peaceful mil- 
lennial reign, for whom the loosing of Satan at its close will be 
fatal, even were all spared at first born of God. 

In this chapter, then, there are simply two striking scenes, 
connected in sense if not as to epoch, outside the regular march 
of things. The Spirit of God, who laid down the historical order 
of the divine judgments, leaves that for the moment and shews 
us that God has mercy in store even in the coming day of dis- 
tress. Israel will be in frightful circumstances: "Jerusalem shall 
receive of Jehovah's hand double for all her sins." As she had 
been strong in her hatred against the Lord, so will He reckon 
that His vengeance has been doubly poured forth upon the guilty 
city. We have had judgments, first beginning with compara- 
tively ordinary events, such as a great conqueror going forth, 
bloodshed, scarcity, God's sore plague (death referring to the 
body and hades to the soul); then a remorseless outburst of 
persecution on God's people ; next a universal and dreadful 
convulsion before the eyes of the seer, affecting heaven, earth, 
and sea, the greatest alarm and bewilderment among men, who 
think that the day of the Lamb's wrath is come. But that day 
was not come then. When it does arrive, the Lord will execute 
judgment in person on the dead and the living. But now it is a 
panic which leads men to dread judgment-day. And the kings 
of the earth, and the nobles, and the chieftains, and the rich, and 
the mighty, and every one, bond and free, were in the utmost 

But here we find that the Lord stops and draws us aside 


for a season to shew us what His mercy is going to do. " [And] 
after this I saw four angels .... holding the four winds of 
the earth." They are kept in check for the moment. "And 
I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal 
of the living God : and he cried with a loud voice to the four 
angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 
saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we 
have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads" (verses 
2, 3). Some have conceived that the sealing angel is Christ, 
partly because it is assumed that the work done is communicating 
the Holy Spirit of promise, the seal of redemption. To me all 
this is more than doubtful. It is not till we reach the trumpet 
series that our Lord ever assumes the angelic form and title. 
Whether we look at the seals, or at the parenthesis between the 
two last. He is invariably, where the reference is certain, spoken 
of as the Lanib. Again, this angel rises up from the sun-rising. 
I can readily apply such a movement to angels subject to the 
Son of man, ascending and descending to do His pleasure. But 
when the Lord appears in angelic garb, He either ministers as 
High Priest with the golden censer, or He comes down with un- 
mistakable tokens and proclamation of His dominion and power. 
In the present scene nothing is said which unequivocally reveals 
His own glory. Much has been made of the phrase "till ive have 
sealed," as if it corresponded with the allusion to the persons in 
the Godhead, as in Gen. i. 26. I am surprised that the rest of 
the sentence was not observed to be incompatible with such a 
meaning. Would Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (which in that 
case would be the sense) say, " till we have sealed the servants 
of our God 1 " The idea seems to me unfounded. Nor even if our 
Lord exclusively could be imagined so to speak, does it seem 
to be consistent with His dignity. He teaches His disciples to 
say " our Father," but does not say it with them. When He does 
associate them with Himself risen from the dead, it is even then 
" M/j Father and your Father, vi>/ God and your God" — never 
" oiir (Jod." 

The meaning then is, that before the various judgments are 
poured out on creation, God will have appropriated a certain 
people for Himself They are sealed with the seal of the living 


God ; that is, a character is put upon them as set apart to God. 
Cain had a very different mark put upon him by Jehovah; it 
was to screen him from man's judgment. Here also protection 
may be involved. At any rate, they are sealed on their fore- 
heads, which, of course, means no physical mark, but God's 
setting them apart for Himself, and, I suppose, publicly. Who 
are the sealed ones ? A measured remnant from His ancient 

Thus the angels are seen restraining the judgments that are 
about to fall on all creation, and we have the seal of God upon 
a certain chosen number out of Israel. He will have an election 
from that people, but it will be a personal and individual 
election — not a merely national one as of old. When David 
attempted to number the people, it was a presumptuous sin, but 
here it is the grace of God appropriating a complement of the 
tribes of Israel to Himself. The number 144,000 is a regular 
and complete number, though it be a mystical one, as I suppose, 
with a view to God's use of the favoured nation here below. 
The number twelve always has a reference to what is perfect for 
God's accomplishment of His work, administered by man. This 
may be seen in the twelve tribes of Israel, twelve patriarchs, 
twelve apostles, and even the twelve gates and twelve founda- 
tions of the New Jerusalem. It is a perfect number where 
human administration comes in. Hence, when the nation of 
Israel are to be brought in again, it is the multiple of twelve 
that we have, and this expressed in thousands ; the full result, 
as far as Israel is concerned, of the administration that God will 
commit to man. 

An important question has been raised here, whether the 
tribes of Israel are to be interpreted literally or mystically. For 
the latter sense it is argued, that the very first vision of the 
seven candlesticks, borrowed from the Jewish sanctuary, and 
the allusions in the seven epistles that follow, but more particu- 
larly in chapter iii. 12 compared with chapter xxi. 12, sustain 
the Christian meaning throughout the book. But does not such 
reasoning overlook the fact that the application of Jewish 
emblems to the churches, while they are expressly spoken of 
here below, and of others to the church, either glorified above 


or following Christ out of heaven in tlie day of the Lord, is 
totally distinct from the question whether certain symbols, taken 
from Israel, may not also apply to a dillerent class of witnesses 
on earth between those two points ? The real question is about 
the interval, when churches are no longer spoken of, and before 
the bride appears with the Bridegroom in glory. To state the 
question aright is enough to shew the inconclusiveness of the 
argument, as applied (not to Rev. i. ii. iii., nor in Rev. xxi. 12, 
where in the main we all agree, but) to the prophetic visions 
from chapter vi. onward. 

Besides, it is allowed by the more intelligent of the historical 
school, that about the close of the age the Jews will be con- 
verted and take the lead in the earthly song of praise on the 
occasion. This may be put too late in the book and founded on 
the feeble evidence of the occurrence of the Hebrew word 
"Hallelujah" in Rev. xix. 3. Still the fact is admitted — an 
Apocalyptic prophecy of that wliich is to happen before the 
a])pearing of the Lord. What is more, a large part of the same 
scliool,* represented by one of their most jjopular books, (Bp. 
Newton's Dissertations on the Proi^hecics ; Works, i. pp. 578, 
579,) understand the tribes of Israel to be meant in their 
natural lustorial import, and apply the prophecy to the vast 
influx of converted Jews in the reign of Constantino. In 
fact the earliest Christian writer who alludes to the chapter, 
Irenaeus the pious Bishop of Lyons, unhesitatingly solves the 
omission of Dan so as to prove that he considered the actual 
tribes of Israel to be meant. So also speaks Victorinus in one 
passage at least of the earliest extant commentary on the book. 
Others soon began to veer towards the allegorizing method, till 

* Mr. Birks widoly diffurs from Mr. Elliott, and this too in perhaps tho most 
acrimonious attack ever made on futuro-litt^ralism. Even Mr. I?, confesses that 
"in tho ahstract, it can neither be unreasonable nor impmhalile that they should 
bo a direct object of the prophecy, and, since no more appropriate symbol could 
be found for them, that they should be, so to speak, their own emblem. Thoso 
who view tho book in general as symbolical may, therefore, without incon- 
sistency, conceive litei'al Jews to bo desi^jned." (Elements of Prophecy, pp. 
2S6, 257, the "masterly work" in which, according to Mr. E., the writer has 
shewn himself tho maitil and /iiniimer of truth against tho reveries of tho 


at length the anti-Judaic theory became much the more general 

But it may be well to notice briefly the reasons alleged by 
one of the ablest advocates of the mystical class — Vitringa. 
First he argues that if the names were to be taken in the letter, 
so must the number. But does this follow ? And if it were a 
necessity, what is to hinder? He who reserved 7,000 in Elijah's 
day may seal 144,000 of Israel in a future epoch. But I see no 
need for this. The people might be literal, the number sym- 
bolical, without difficulty save to one fascinated by the love of 
excessive simplification. It is not denied that symbols exist, 
nor that they yield a determinate sense ; but to look for a sort 
of pictorial consistency in all the parts is contrary to the facts 
everywhere. Moreover what could be the meaning of a mystical 
Eeuben, Gad, Asher, &c. ? Nobody that I know pretends to 
assign a distinctive signification, unless persons in the last degree 
fanciful. Yet if they are to be so taken, one might expect each 
to have a meaning, which is looked for in vain in those who 
plead strenuously for the general idea. Next it is urged that by 
the sealed must be understood God's elect, who are to be pre- 
served from an otherwise universal calamity; and who can 
assert these to be Jews only ? But who affirms that none are 
elect save these ? We shall see presently that the scope of the 
prophecy and the connexion of the passage intimate the con- 
trary. The false assumption therefore is, not that the sealed 
thousands are out of the actual tribes of Israel only, but that 
there will be no other saints than these. Thirdly the omission of 
Dan seems to be at least as great a difficulty on the mystical as 
on the literal hypothesis. In the blessing of Moses (Deut. 
xxxiii.) Simeon is left out. Is this list of the tribes, then, to be 
taken allegorically ? Fourthly, the alleged parallel text, Eev. 
xiv. 1, by no means proves that the tribes are not literally of 
Israel. The 144,000 in chap. xiv. are saints on earth, not long 
before the final catastrophe, and in contrast with those defiled 
l)y Babylon and enslaved by the Beast. That they are not the 
church, but rather a godly remnant of Israelites associated in 
tlie Spirit's mind with the suffering but now exalted Christ, is 
what writers of this stamp have never even fairly weighed, 


much less have they decided on good grounds one way or the 

On the other hand, I conceive that the specification of the 
tribes is inconsistent with any sense but the literal. Then again 
the contradistinction is as plain and positive as words can make 
it, between the sealed numbers out of Israel and the innumerable 
multitude from all nations and kindreds and peoples and tongues. 
So that the mystical theory, when closely examined, cannot 
escape the charge of absurdity ; for it identifies the sealed 
Israelites with the palm-bearing Gentiles, spite of the evident 
and express contrast on the face of the chapter. This results 
from trying to make out that the Gentile crowd consists of all 
the afjsreuated freneratious of the elect from the tribes. As to 
the sealed ones, not a hint appears of a succession : indeed the 
command to suspend the action of the four winds till after the 
sealing implies the contrary. It was a precise limited hour, as 
it was a special class. But what clenches the matter is that the 
palm-bearing Gentiles {i.e., according to some, the Christian 
church in its heavenly completeness) are all described as coming 
out of the great tribulation — a tribulation which even tliey view 
as following the days of Constantine. Thus all seems to me 
strong and conclusive that the sealed here are literal Israelites — 
not only of Israel, but Israel, the Israel of God; as the mystical 
reading of the first part of the chapter, with the literal under- 
standing of the rest, involves its advocates in consequences the 
more gross where it is most systematically pursued. 

With regard to the tribes mentioned, there is a certain 
peculiarity on which I can say little. Tliere are the sons of 
the various wives of Jacob : first, the two sons of Leah, Judali 
and Reuben ; then of Zilpah, Leah's maid, Gad and Asher ; then 
Napthali, the son of tlie maid Bilhah, and instead of Dan her 
other son, Manasseh (Joseph's firstborn) is substituted. Then 
tliere are the four sons of Leah, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, and 
Zebulun ; and finally, the sons of liachel, Joseph, and Benjamin. 
Clearly we have the sons arranged according to the different 
mothers, the oflspring of the bondwomen being intermingled 
with that of the free. Dan, who had been the most consjncuous 
for idolatry, is left out, and instead of P^jhraim, the younger son 


of Joseph, Joseph himself appears. We find here the sealed of 
Israel, but the tribes numbered and arranged in a singular 
manner. They are no longer merely taken up in a natural way 
according to the order of birth, but God seems to intimate that 
He would make them a spiritual people also, stamped with His 
seal. They will then be Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile. 
Nor is Dan at last disinherited. (Ezek. xlviii. 1, 32.) 

Nor this only ; God is also going to save a multitude of Gen- 
tiles, and here no numbering appears. This is a most refreshing 
thought from its largeness. Tor though from them God is now 
gathering a people to His name, yet when we think of the 
multitudes that are immersed in darkness, of the myriads on 
myriads of men in heathen countries, of a handful — yea, perhaps 
but one — among them here and there having the knowledge of 
God, it is an afflicting and humbling reflection. But is it not 
remarkable that when God is to shew us the increasing wicked- 
ness of both Jew and Gentile, and when His judgments are 
about to fall, we find there is this multitude of Israel numbered 
with the greatest care, and God not forgetful of the poor Gentiles? 
They may not be put in the same high place as the Jews, yet 
God will bless them wonderfully notwithstanding. But the 
prophet, who had just known the election of Israel sealed and 
had heard the number of them, has to turn to one of the elders 
in order to learn who the countless company are. They were 
to John a new unknown crowd among the blessed. If theij 
were sealed on their foreheads, is it reasonable that they should 
just after seem so strange ? 

The multitude spoken of here is distinct from, if not in con- 
trast with, the church; and it is thus that we ascertain it clearly. 
The elders represent the heavenly saints as the heads of priest- 
hood. Now God might use two different symbols to mean the 
same body ; as, for instance, the wise virgins and the good and 
faithful servants in Matt. xxv. are successive representatives of 
the heavenly saints. But here we have the Gentile multitude 
and the elders given as distinct jMrties in the same scene. Again 
you have the elders doing one thing and the multitude doing 
another. Above all, note that the way in which God speaks of 
this multitude totally separates them both from the church of 


God and from the Old Testament saints. This cannot be so 
clearly seen in our authorized translation, but the right version 
in verse 14 is this : " These are they which come out of the 
great tribulation." One could understand of course that as a 
figure the whole of this dispensation might be called a time of 
tribulation, or even of great tribulation. But here it is not 
merely said, " These are they which came out of great tribula- 
tion," but " out of the great tribulation." It is not possible to 
make " the great tribulation " extend over all the time between 
the first and second comings of Christ. Even the vague Pro- 
testant interpreters make it specific, but apply it, as is natural 
in them, to the fierce persecutions of the Papacy — "the great 
predicted tribulation of the coming apostacy and Antichrist." 
The phrase means a special time of trouble, and we gather from 
elsewhere that it is yet to come ; and it is exactly this time 
that the central part of the Eevelation includes, and chiefly 
covers. In the epistle to Thyatira it was said, " Behold I will 
cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her 
into great tribulation, except they repent of theii- deeds." !May 
we not judge that the threat of this great tribulation is to be 
fulfilled now. The scene of the cliurch is closed, the great tribu- 
lation comes on apace, and those who liad professed Christianity 
but who had gone back into idolatry would be cast into it with 
others. Thus, what God shews us here is a multitude of saved 
Gentiles: not the Jews, for we have had them just before; and 
not Christians, for these will then be in heaven. Those are a 
Gentile body called after the church is taken up ; they are to be 
in the great tribulation but shall be preserved tlirough it. 

We shall find the great tribulation spoken of in several parts 
of the word of God. In Jeremiah it is named in connexion 
with the Jews. (Jer. xxx. 7.) "Alas! for that day is great, so 
that none is like it ; it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but 
lie shall be saved out of it." There is to be a time of excessive, which closes with the day of the Lord, and Jacob is to 
be saved out of it ; so that tliere you have the Jew in trouble, 
and the Jew delivered out of it. ]>at in Daniel it is still more 
explicit. (Dan. xii.) The angel speaks of Daniel's own people, 
the Jews. "At that time .... there shall be a time of trouble, 


sucli as never was since there was a nation, even to that same 
time : and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one 
that shall be found written in the book." This is " the time of 
Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it." It is evidently 
the j)lain counterpart of the words of -Jeremiah; and it warrants 
the inference that there is to be a future " time of trouble, such 
as never was " — the immediate precursor of deliverance for 
Jacob's people as spoken of in these prophecies. 

In Matthew xxiv. the Lord Himself refers to it : " For then 
sliall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning 
of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." There again 
we have the same time, the Lord quoting the very passage of 
Daniel just cited. It is quite plain that He is speaking only of 
Jews, because they are supposed to be connected with the tem- 
ple, and they are told to pray that their flight be not on the 
sabbath day, in which case they could not go beyond a sabbath 
day's journey, nor in winter. In either case there would be a 
hindrance to their flight, whether on God's part, or in the cir- 
cumstances of the season. We have the same thing referred to 
in Mark, but Luke seems to speak in a more general way. 

What parties then are to be in the scene of the tribulation ? 
First a Jewish one spoken of in the Prophets and the Gospels, 
the object of God's care, who will deal tenderly with a remnant 
of Israel, and deliver them out of their distresses. Then in 
Eev. vii. 9 we hear of a Gentile multitude. But neither party is 
the church. 

Never have we God dealing thus with the Jew and with the 
Gentile as such, and forming the church at the same time ; for 
then God would have at least two, if not three, objects — not 
various only but opposed objects — of special affection on the 
earth at the same time, with quite different modes and aims of 

Suppose there were two persons, whom the Lord was bringing 
near to Himself. If He were dealing with the Jew, He would 
have acknowledged an earthly temple, priesthood, and worship. 
The Lord Jesus recognised the Jews as such when He was on 
earth, and in a still more blessed way He will do so in the day 
that is coming. But as long as the Lord is occupied with form- 



ing the church, Jewish order ceases to have any claim. Thus 
then suppose that God were blessing the Jews as Jews, and at 
the same time forming the church on earth, if two persons were 
converted, the one might say, I must still have my priest and 
go to the temple ; while another would exclaim, There is no 
priest but Christ, and the temple is in heaven. See the confusion 
that would spring from God's owning an earthly and a heavenly 
people at the same time here below. 

In this time of tribulation, when the Lord will recognize the 
Jew (or the godly remnant) to a certain extent, the church will 
not be in the scene. The objects of deliverance will be elect 
Jews and elect Gentiles, each distinct from the other, and not the 
church of God, where both are united and all distinctions dis- 
appear. We have seen direct proof of the removal of the church 
in chaps, iv. and v. Here there is indirect evidence, because we 
have Jews sealed and Gentiles saved, and the latter expressly 
distinguished from the elders or heavenly saints. The sealing 
of the Jews included the election from the whole twelve tribes 
of Israel, except where there was a special brand of evil, as in 
the case of Dan. But the moment we find the Jew, we have 
God looking also, though separately, at the nations ; because, 
having once visited the Gentile with His mercy, He will never 
take it back. Thus, when here He speaks of mercy to a com- 
plement of Israel, there is also salvation to a multitude out of 
eveiy nation and kindred and people and tongue. 

We saw that if the guilty Christian professors went on in 
their sin with Jezebel, they would be given up, and would be 
left to go through great tribulation. Here we find the great 
tribulation come ; and not only are Israelites sealed, but a 
multitude of Gentiles are delivered out of it. The Old Testament 
does not speak of Gentiles being delivered thence, but Jews. 
Meantime, God has been sending salvation to the Gentiles. 
Hence in the New Testament prophecy Gentile deliverance is 
as prominent as Jewish deliverance is in the Old Testament. 
God shews that, in the last days, He is going to save a vast 
throng of Gentiles. But will it be so in these countries where 
the light of the gospel has shone and has been despised ? 
" They received not the love of the truth, that they might be 


saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delu- 
sion, that they should believe a lie : that they all might be 
damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in imright- 
eousness." (2 Thess. ii. 10-12.) God will visit those who have 
not enjoyed this testimony, the external peoples who have not 
had Christ rightly presented to them. The church has com- 
pletely failed in what God looks for from us. He called on the 
church to take up the cross and to follow Christ ; but the 
church has, in practice, given up the cross and followed the 
world. All this has hardened the heathen, who find that the 
church does not bring forth the fruits that are suitable to the 
grace and truth which we profess to have found in Christ. But 
God, in His fulness of mercy, will go to those outside. Thus I 
believe that these very countries which have set themselves up 
as the centre from whence the light emanates will then be in 
antichristian idolatry, while those which have been in darkness 
will come out into light. It will only be the tale of Galilee of 
the nations again, when Jerusalem despised and lost the Son of 
God — alas ! how long. 

Here we see the blessed result. There will be this innumerable 
multitude of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, 
who stand before the throne* and before the Lamb. Theirs are 
the robes of righteousness,! and their palms are the palms of 
victory ; but they do not sing the new song. There is nothing 
like the high and exulting tone of chap, v., no intercession for 
others, nay, not a word of being made kings and priests to God. 

* John's vision of them there does not imply that they are to be in heaven, 
rather than on the earth, when the kingdom comes. " Before the throne and 
before the Lamb" is moral rather than local. (Compare Kev. xii. 1; xlv. 3.) 
It merely expresses where the prophet beholds them in the mind of God. The 
description with which the chapter closes conveys the idea of people delivered 
from bitter sorrow, and sheltered for ever. No doubt this will be inexpressible 
comfort to them : but nothing they say rises to the height of the joj"^ and 
intelligence which are seen in the elders, nor is anything said of them which at 
all sets them on equal ground with these. They are never presented with crowns 
nor seated on thrones like the twenty-four. They are in relationship with God 
when He is no longer viewed as seated on a throne of grace such as we know 
now, but as on a throne whence judgments proceed. All harmonizes with the 
interval of introductory government which precedes the millennium. 

t It has been sought to draw out the contrast between these Gentiles in Rev. 
vii. and our own position in Rev. i. 5, 6, by dwelling on the dilfcrent statements, 

M 2 


They cry with a loud voice, "Salvation unto our God who 
sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb." They are saved 
persons, but the ascription is limited to the title that He takes 
upon the throne and to the Lamb. God is not now sitting upon 
the throne that is described here : at least it is not thus He 
reveals Himself while the church is on earth. He will by and 
by take His place there as One issuing judgments ; and the 
great point seems to be, that although it is a time of preparatory 
wrath and judicial action, yet God is shewing signal mercy, 
even to Gentiles. In verse 13, we have the elders looking 
upon the scene. How could they be looking upon themselves ? 
Yet this must be the case, if the elders and the innimierable 
multitude are both supposed to set forth the church. We have 
two distinct parties. If the elders are the church, the multitude 
is not ; and if the multitude is, then the elders cannot be. I 
well understand a man having a picture taken of himself in 
one suit of clothing at one time and in a different suit at 
another. But we could not possibly have a portrait of a man 
taken at the same moment with two different sets of robes upon 
him, so as to display distinct characters, and fulfil opposite 
functions together. 

In the church of God which is being called now there is 
neither Jew nor Gentile. The moment you find the distinction 
kept up between them, there cannot be the church. Whenever 
you separate the Jew from the Gentile, you are off church-ground. 
Before the death and resurrection of Christ, God was not forming 
Jew and Gentile into one body. Thus, even when tlie Lord 
Jesus was upon earth. He forbade His disciples to go to the 
Gentiles, or so much as enter the Samaritan cities. But when 
He, the beginning, the firstborn fi'om tlic dead, was about to 

that th(]i washed their robes, and that lie washed us. But such comparisons 
oft(^n lead to fjjrave misconception, as indeed this has done. I wish, therefore, 
explicitly to stato my own conviction (i7i which, douhtloss, the writer referred to 
would cordially join), that the salvation of all the saved at all times depends 
on the work of Christ, and that the Spirit is tlu' only ellicacious applicr of it 
tf) any soul. The real queslion is as to the various dealin<xs of Clod and TTis 
Bovcroign arrangcmonts amonp^ the saved. Scripttire, in my opinion, is quite 
clear as to all this, if men would but give uj) preconceived notions and wait om 
God for the answer. 


form the church, He charged them to go everywhere and preach 
the gospel to every creature, instead of merely seeking out him 
that was worthy in Israel. Thus, a complete change was evinced 
in the ways of God, not as if He knew not the end from the 
beginning, but with a view to fresh displays of His glory in His 
Son. So too when the present calling closes, His mercy will 
flow out in fresh channels, as we have seen. 

I trust, then, it has been shewn plainly that the subject of 
this chapter is not the church, but Israel and the Gentiles 
blessed as such. Indeed, one need not hesitate to say that, if 
any person supposed Eev. vii. treated of the church, it would 
argue that he had no true idea of its nature and calling — that 
he had no conception of what the Holy Ghost connects with 
the body of Christ here below.* The church of God is essen- 

* The following extract from Dr. John Owen's Prelim. Dissert, to his Com- 
ment, on the Hebrews (Exer. vi.) is endorsed with strong commendation by a 
living Professor of Theology, and may serve as evidence of the darkness that 
reigns on the subject. "At the coming of the Messiah, there was not one 
church taken away, and another set up in its room ; but the church continued 
the same, in those that were the children of Abraham according to the faith. 
The Christian church is not another church, but the very same that was before 
the coming of Christ, having the same faith with it, and interested in the same 
covenant. The olive tree was the same ; only some branches were broken and 
others grafted into it : the Jews fell, and the Gentiles came in their room. And 
this doth and must determine the difference between the Jews and Christians 
about the promises of the Old Testament. They are all made unto the church. 
No individual hath any interest in them, but by virtue of his membership with 
the church. This church is, and always was, one and the same. With whom- 
soever it remains, the promises are theirs ; and that, not by application or 
analogy, but directly and properly. They belong as immediately at this day, 
either to Jews (?) or Christians, as they did of old to anj-. The question is 
with whom is this church which is founded on the promised seed in the 
covenant ? for where it is, there is Zion, Jerusalem, Israel, Jacob, the temple of 
God." There is not a clause that is not an error ; for even where there is a 
certain substratum of truth, the use is ftiUacious. The Judaising of the church 
on this scheme is complete. The truth is that Dr. O. confounds the calling of the 
church, according to the mystery hid from ages and generations, with the 
earthly order in which the promises are administered. Thus the doctrine of 
Ephesians, Colossians, and other such scriptures, is left out and unknown ; that 
is, the doctrine of a body united to Christ its glorified head, and manifested on 
earth by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Such a state of things did 
not exist before Christ's first advent, nor can it be after His second. As to the 
inheritance of the promises, we share this with the saints of old ; but it is not 
our peculiar place fif blessing. The church, ns such, is quite a distinct thing, 


tially a heavenly body that entirely sets aside all distinction 
of Jew and Gentile. The scope, if not object, of this chapter 
shews that these distinctions reappear at the time that is referred 
to. We have first a company of Israel, then an innumerable 
crowd out of the Gentiles. Besides these, that class of the re- 
deemed formed out of the Jews and Gentiles, and long familiar 
to us in this book (namely, the crowned elders), are seen as a 
distinct body altogether. 

Thus we have in this chapter " the Jew, the Gentile, and the 
church of God" — sealed Jews and saved Gentiles, for the earth, 
as I suppose, and the church with the Old Testament saints pre- 
served for heavenly glory. While the elect of the twelve tribes 

though the members of it are, with others, heirs through Christ. So with the 
olive tree ; doubtless the Gentiles are now grafted in : but is it possible a spirit- 
ual man could confound this with the body of Christ ? The Jews were natural 
branches, the olive was their own olive tree : even the unbelieving branches 
formed part of it, though at length broken off to let Gentiles in. Does one 
word of this bring out the church as shewn in Ephos. i. ii. ? Is not aU above 
nature here ? In that one body, it is not Jews making way for Gentiles, but 
the believers, whether Jew or Gentile, brought out of their old previous con- 
dition, reconciled in one by the cross, and builded together for an habitation of 
God through the Spirit. All this is neutralised by Dr. Owen's theory. At 
least, as regards the future, INIr. Elliott renounces it. "The church of the first- 
born, the bride, may be complete ; but it does not follow that none afterwards 
can bo saved. Wliat is said of the kings of the earth, walking in the light of 
the heavenly Jerusalem, seems to me to imply an enjoyment of the blessing by 
other parties, besides those that constitute Christ's bride, the New Jerusalem. 
The very statement of Christ's being a priest upon His throne (if applicable, as 
I think it is, to the millennial era) implies Christ's still exercising His inter- 
cessory and other priestly functions. And if I am correct in my view of John 
xvii. 21, 23, it was a marked point in His earliest intercessor}' prayer that the 
world's believing on Him generally might be the result of the distinctive 
manifestation in glory of the church of His disciples of the present dispensa- 
tion ; — that manifestation which, as all agree, will be only at His second coming." 
(//. A., iv. p. 187.) Every one must allow that in the millennium the olive tree 
will flourish moi-e than ever, and the Abrahamic promises be fulfilled to the 
letter. If then the church, Christ's bride, is distinct from the millennial saints, 
albeit these last inherit the promises and are branches in the olive tree, tho 
principle is evidently given up. Tho same thing, tlien, mat/ be true of tho Old 
Testament saints. It becomes a question of tho te.stimony of scripture. Now 
this, wo have seen, pronounces clearly that the church of God, Christ's body, 
depends on the gift and presence of tho Holy Ghost, consequent on the death, 
resurrection, and glorification of the Saviour. (Matt. xvi. 18; John vii. 39; 
xiv -xvi. ; Acts i. ii. ; 1 Cor. xii., &c.) 


are said to have great mercy shewn them, and the Gentiles too, 
who might have been thought to be forgotten then (ver. 14-17), 
yet it is not the same exalted privilege that we shall enjoy. 
" They" {i.e., these spared Gentiles) "serve day and night in his 
temple." But when the Holy Ghost is shewing us our special 
place of blessing, the prophet says, " I saw no temple therein." 
In chapter xxi., where he describes the bride or the heavenly 
Jerusalem, it is a state of things totally different from what we 
have here. Though it be the city where you might above all 
expect to find a sanctuary, he says, " I saw no temple therein." 
Why is this ? Because that city is the symbol of the bride, and 
when God brings out the blessedness and glory of the church, 
He speaks of it as drawing near to Himself, so that there shall 
be none but Christ between Him and them, if we can call that 
between, where Christ Himself is the image of the invisible God, 
the One who reveals God to us and who is God. It excludes 
the idea of the temple. Here, on the contrary, we have the 
temple. One of their greatest privileges spoken of is that they 
serve Him day and night in His temple, and " He that sitteth 
on the throne shall dwell again among them." There might 
seem to be a difficulty in this, but there really is a careful guard 
against the thought that might be drawn from the words " dwell 
among them." The true meaning is, God having His tabernacle 
over them, not among them. In chap. xxi. we find God dwelling 
among men. It is not the same phrase at all. Similar in English, 
it is totally different in the Greek. In chapter vii. the idea is 
that the presence of God overshadows the Gentiles, but there is 
no such thing intended as God's taking His place among them. 
They are blessed of God, overshadowed and protected as Israel 
of old under the cloud of His presence. Like them too in the 
future (Isa. xlix.), they shall not hunger nor thirst, neither shall 
the sun nor heat smite them; blessed expressions, but rather 
conveying an earthly position than a heavenly one. We have 
the Lamb Himself to feed us now. Even here He gives us to 
have in us wells of water springing up into everlasting life, and 
out of us flow rivers of living water. 

I have been endeavouring to prove, then, that God's purposes 
are not limited by what He is doing now. Besides forming the 

168 THE church's privilege. 

heavenly body, the church, and conferring upon it the highest 
privileges even He can give, God is going to visit the Gentiles 
by and by. They will be remembered ; and this will be done in 
tlie midst of the most appalling judgments which precede the 
great day. And God makes plain our own position amidst it all ; 
for we see the elders distinct, and they have the mind of Christ. 
This last is the portion of the church even on earth, just as 
Joseph was in his time the depositary of God's wisdom. Whether 
in prison or out of prison, he catered into the thoughts of God 
and was able to explain them to others. This is the place that 
God's goodness puts us in ; alas ! how little it is prized or acted 
on. It is one of the most precious privileges that belongs to the 
church of God, save the position in which God sets us as brought 
nigh in Christ to Himself. Thei'c ought to be the power of an- 
nouncing the revealed thoughts of God by the Holy Ghost. 



To me it is manifest that the seventh seal is followed by a short 
but solemn pause, which again is introductory to a new course of 
divine inflictions.* "And when he opened the seventh seal, there 
was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I 
saw the seven angels who stand before God ; and to them were 
given seven trumpets." Now these judgments that come before 
us under the trumpets are of a somewhat different character 
from what we have seen in the seals. In the first place, the seals 
in general appear to have a larger extent, but the blows were 

* Strange as it may seem that so simple a matter should give rise to long doubt 
and interminable discussion, such is the fact. Perhaps the earliest interpretation 
on record, that of Victorinus (a mart>T in Diocletian's persecution) applies the 
half-hour's silence to the beginning of eternal rest. And this remains the re- 
source still of most who understand the seven seals to embrace the outline of 
events in providence, down to the second advent of the Lord, save that some 
would rather style the seventh seal a pause at His return. It is plain that the 
view rests mainly upon the assumption that the sixth seal introduced the day of 
the Lord, with its dependent sealing and palm-beariag visions representing the 
consummated glory of the blessed. Nobody can conceive that silence in heaven 
for half-an-hour would have been so viewed, unless the seal before had necessi- 
tated to their minds some such reference. And yet it is evidently unnatural ; 
for if we had the rest, be it millennial or eternal, described fully in the close of 
chapter vii., why did it need a fresh seal to inaugurate or continue it in the com- 
mencement of chapter viii. ? And with what propriety, either as to time or 
character, is it conveyed in the seventh seal ? This has led others to adopt the 
stiU stranger idea that the sixth seal closes the sequence of events, the seventh 
being merely indicative of a separation between this series and the parallel one 
of the trumpets. And the very curious circumstance is, that some who receive 
this anomalous arrangement have persuaded themselves that theirs is the only 
perfect clue to the order of the book, whereas it is nothing but hopeless con- 
fusion. That I may not be charged with injustice, let me give the following 
statement from Three Letters on the Prophecies, pp. 2, 3, by J. H. Frere, 
reprinted in 1859. "Every commentator who has hitherto written on the 
Apocalypse, by erroneously understanding the mention of the seventh seal 
having been opened, which occurs at chapter viii. 1, to be an introduction of 
the events of that seal, has committed the greatest possible chronological error : 


not SO severe. It is true we had in Eev. vi. 8 a certain limita- 
tion (viz. the fourth part), used with regard to the extent of the 
blow then to be struck. But in the other instances there was no 
such restraint ; whereas in most of the trumpets it is the third 
part, with some slight exceptions. The trumpets, then, may be 
less extensive in their range, but it will by and by appear that 
they are more intensely judicial than the seals. 

Further, we find that the very name indicates a difference. 
The trumpet sets forth a loud and solemn call of God. It is 
God summoning men ; for if they have rejected His grace, they 
must hear, even if they forget, these sharp warnings of His 
judgment. The seals might not so readily have been regarded 
as divine interferences, unless God had beforehand told us that 
such they were, with their nature and their order. In them- 
selves, and especially in the first four, they ushered in disastrous 
but not unprecedented occurrences. But when we come to the 
trumpets it is not so requisite to announce that they are heaven- 
embracing in the midst of the seals, and therefore amidst the events of time, the 
eternal state of the glorified church, represented by the vision of the palm-bear- 
ing multitude before the throne, of the preceding chapter (vii. 9-17) : so that no 
chronological arrangement of the Apocalj-pse has as yet even been proposed, seeing 
that eternity has thus been universally introduced between the sixth and seventh 
seals. The Apocalypse, however, will be found really to consist of these chi-ono- 
logical histories, viz., the seven seals, contained in chapters vi. and vii., con- 
cluding with the vision of the eternal state ; the seven trumpets, consisting of 
chapter viii. to x. 7, concluding (like the prophecy of Daniel, chapter xii. 7) 
■with the vision of Christ assuring His church, by the solemnity of an oath, that 
he regards their sufferings and sets bounds to their dui"ation ; and the little 
opened book (Rev. x. 8 to xiv.) concluding with the great judgment of the 
treading of the wine-press of Annageddon." It is manifest that this unheard of 
and systematic disorder is due to the groat primary error that Rev. vi. 17 is a 
prophecy of the wrath of the Lamb, instead of being the predicted expression of 
men's apprehension at that early epoch of judgment. The seventh seal is ren- 
dered meaningless, the sixth seal being virtually made the seventh, and the 
contents of it and of the parenthetical chapter vii. entirely misimderstood. 
Equally are the trumpets mistaken. They do )iot conclude with Christ's oath, 
any more than the preceding scries concluded with the vision of the eternal 
state. Neither does the little open book conclude with Armageddon. Like the 
sealing and palm-bearing visions, it is a parenthesis revealed within the limits 
of the sixth trumpet, instead of following the seventh trumpet. The reader will, 
therefore, see the immense importance of steadily resisting the too common error 
as to the sixth seal, and will understand why I have run the risk of repeating 
its confutation too frequently. 


sent judgments. Their sound or summons is quite plain and 
urgent. They appeal far more unmistakably to men. 

But there is another remarkable difference and of a more 
spiritual nature. The Lamb disappears under these new scenes. 
The Lord Jesus is not spoken of in that point of view while 
these destructive judgments run their course. This supposes 
and marks a great change, and we have to enquire what God 
would have us to gather from it. If the Lord Jesus is introduced 
at all, it is in another guise or aspect, and not as the Lamb. It is 
not the Lamb that takes the golden censer, but an angel. I do 
not deny that Christ is referred to, but it is in His angelic con- 
nexion, or at least in an angelic form. He is presented in a 
more distant way than ever the church or the Christian, as 
such, knows Him in. In Heb. ii. we find that the Holy Ghost 
reasons upon the fact of Christ's having taken the place of man. 
"■ For verily he took not on him [the nature of] angels," &c. In 
our version the expression is too strong and the italics a mistake. 
The meaning is that He did not take up the angels : they were 
not the object of God's calling nor of His redemption. Jesus 
took hold of the seed of Abraham (as it is given correctly in 
the margin), and because of this, "Forasmuch as the children 
are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took 
part of the same." He did not undertake the cause of angels. 
He stands in no such relationship towards them. Still there is 
nothing, as it seems to me, to contradict the idea that the Lord 
Jesus may be and is intended in chapter viii. as the officiating 
angel at the altar; for indeed He is the Head of everything, 
the head of all principality and power. Why, then, might He 
not be viewed here in exalted, angelic glory? The personage 
spoken of acts as the angel-priest. Undoubtedly it is not thus 
that He has to do with the heavenly saints, and that He minis- 
ters before God for us. But then the Lord, at the point of time 
to which we are come in the prophecy, has entirely done with 
His ministration for the partakers of the heavenly calling, at 
least so far as provision for their failure is concerned; but we 
learn His interest in another class of saints — in "all the saints" 
of course — who will be upon the earth when the church has 
been taken up to heaven. 


There is less introduction here of the suffering saints of God 
than anywhere else. The judgments fall almost entirely upon 
the world, upon men in their circumstances and persons, and 
finally upon men in their responsible relationship to God. 
Outwardly the saints would seem to be mixed up with them. 
This accounts for the absence of the Lamb ; for wherever He 
appears as such in the book of the Eevelation, it is Christ in 
His character of the holy and earth-rejected sufferer. Accord- 
ingly, the Lamb is peculiarly brought .out where there are 
sufferers mentioned. For that word remains always true, that 
" when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them." 
He never puts them in a path of which He has not tasted the 
bitterest sorrow before them. Here lie retires, as it were, and 
is only seen in comparatively distant, angelic glory. 

Eemark also how full of symbols the chapter is, and, from 
the first trumpet, of how external a kind. Everywhere mys- 
teriousness prevails. It is not God opening out His heart of 
complacency in those He loves. Whenever this is the subject. 
He speaks as it were face to face. He is simple and explicit. 
Without leaving this book, take for instance chap. xiv. There 
He is going to speak of persons who were, or were to be, exposed 
to all sorts of trials, because of association with Jesus ; and the 
first thing that we see on the mount Sion is the Lamb, and the 
portion of the wicked follows in the most distinct manner. So 
again in chap. xii. " they overcame him [the dragon-accuser] by 
the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony ; 
and they loved not their lives unto death." But here we have 
God's dealings with the world, and the scantiest notice of His 
own people as a separate class ; and as the world has no claim 
on God, whatever His mercy to it, as the wotld has no tie with 
Him and only despises His love, so God speaks but of His 
earthly judgments in forms more and more a\.ful. He does not 
bring iicrsotis so distinctly forward as in other scenes ; and thus, 
as I conceive, even the person of the Lord Jesus is therefore not 
set forth evidently. For here, as elsewhere, we find that there 
is the most surprising harmony governing all scripture, when 
once the key to it is seen. 

First of all there are the angels standing before God, and tlicy 


take their trumpets, the seventh seal being a sort of preparation, 
or a signal, for a renewed course and another class of judgment. 
But before this begins we have an angel-priest. There are those 
to whom God is faithful, for His eyes are over tlie righteous, 
and His ears open to their prayers ; but the face of the Lord is 
against them that do evil. Though there may be but a passing 
glimpse at the saints, yet God would never have us to forget that 
even at this time there are objects of His care on the earth. 

"And another angel came and stood at the altar, having 
a golden censer; and there was given him much incense." 
Wherever the altar occurs without qualification, it invariably 
means, I believe, the brazen altar — the first means or point of 
contact between God and men on earth. There the holocaust 
was burnt, and the other offerings of sweet savour ; thence was 
the fire taken, in order to cause the incense to ascend from its 
appropriate altar in the holy place. And this, as it flows from 
or agrees with the rest of scripture, so it is in perfect accord 
with its uses in the Eevelation (chap. vi. 9; xi. 1 ; xiv. 18 ; xvi. 
7). Where the altar of iucense is in question, it is characterized 
as " the golden altar" before the throne, or before God (chap, 
viii. 3 ; ix. 13). Both are referred to here. Had the same altar 
been intended in the beginning as in the end of verse 3, tlie 
full description would surely have been furnished at the first 
mention rather than at the second. Nor is there more difficulty 
as to seeing the great altar in the heavenly vision here, than the 
sea or laver in chap. iv. ; for according to the Jewish type they 
were equally in the court. At this altar then which connected 
the fire with the offering and acceptance of Christ, the angel 
stood with the golden censer pertaining to the holy of holies. 
The very phrase conveys to my mind that it was not his usual 
place : he came and stood there. In the authorised version it is 
said of the incense "that he should offer it with the prayers," 
&c. But if we take the phrase as it is given in chap, xi., the 
sense becomes plainer and more just. There we read (ver. 3), 
" I will (jim power unto my two witnesses." Now it is exactly the 
same form of expression hero, and moans that He should give 
fovjcr to the prayers or render them efficacious. "And the 
smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints 


ascended up before God," &c. (ver. 4.) What is the effect of 
the prayers and the incense ? All would feel that the Holy- 
Ghost does not lead persons to pray for what is contrary to the 
mind of God, though when a mistaken prayer is offered, He 
will listen in His long-suffering, and knows how to teach His 
children the foolishness of such requests. But none can say 
that the Holy Ghost ever suggested or sustained a prayer which 
was not according to God's purpose. Observe also that incense 
out of the angel's hand accorDj)anies these prayers of the saints, 
and they are offered up to God. 

But the fifth verse records a new action : " And the angel 
took the censer and filled it with fire of the altar." Surely this 
is the brazen altar, where not the incense but the fire was 
burning. The result is, not the efficacy of Christ's work comes 
up before God in more and more sweetness (as we see in the 
case of the offerings put on tlie brazen altar in Leviticus), but 
that here the fire was cast into the earth, and immediately 
followed " thunderiugs, and lightnings, and voices, and an 
earthquake." So that thus we find evidently prayer of another 
character and with a different effect produced — nay, the very 
priest himself viewed in another manner, as compared with 
what is going on now. For us Jesus the Son of God has 
passed through the heavens, a High Priest who was in all points 
tempted like us, apart from sin. He died for our sins. He can 
sympathize with our infirmities, having suffered to the utmost 
both in temptation and atonement. Our God also is on a 
throne of grace, whence mercy and grace come forth to help in 
time of need. (Heb, iv.) Again, our attitude towards those 
without is akin ; and hence supplications, prayers, intercessions 
and giving of thanks, are and ought to be made for all men. 

But here is not mercy but judgment; for though there may 
be the incense and the prayers of saints, the immediate issue 
is that the symbols of God's judgments are seen taking effect 
through the earth. There is perfect congruity in all the scenes 
that are portrayed here. Although a priest, and saints, and 
an altar (both altars, as it seems to me), and incense, and the 
censer, and the fire are all found in due order, yet it is in 
communion with God chastising the earth : hence too the place 


of comparative distance already noticed. If the Lord is brought 
out at all, it is as an angel and not in His full dignity as the Son 
of God consecrated for evermore. Of course He is always the 
Son of God, but He has other dignities beside, and here the 
prophetic vision presents Him in a totally different title and 

Again does it not seem an unintelligent inference, be it 
made by HistoricaHst or by Futurist, that " all the saints " is a 
phrase which necessarily involves the conclusion that the 
church of God is meant ? The question must be judged by the 
convictions we have as to the bearing of all this part of the 
book. And it has been abundantly shewn that, ever since 
chapter iv. began, the church is viewed as already and wholly 
glorified in heaven. Hence the church is really out of the 
question here, and these are all the saints on earth subsequently 
for whom deliverance is prepared. The angel offers their prayers, 
and judgment on earth for their deliverance is the reply. The 
ordinary reasoning is therefore beside the mark. All the saints 
are of course the Lord's people — a converted class, Jewish or 
Gentile. That this is what scripture calls christians or the church 
is another matter, which the objectors would do well to inquire 

" And the seven angels that had the seven trumpets prepared 
themselves to sound. And the first sounded, and there followed 
hail and fire mingled with blood," &c. The general bearing of 
this is apparent. These things are not to be taken in their mere 
obvious or physical drift. Supposing one looks at such a thing 
literally as a mountain falling into the sea (verse 8), would it 
ever turn the water into blood ? Nothing of the sort. The fact 
is that these were pictures that passed before the eyes of the 
prophet. What the figures meant we have to gather from the 
general tenor of the word, by the teaching of the Spirit. I presume 
that even the prophet himself had to learn their meaning from 
the scriptures. For here we have St. John, not in the place of 
one before whom all was naked and open and at once under- 
stood, but rather simply as a Seer. He is not necessarily able, 
as a matter of course, to enter fully into all that is passing be- 
fore him, but has need to mark, learn, and inwardly digest. We 


come in the Apocalypse to the ground of prophecy, and this is 
a different region from that in which the Holy Ghost opens out 
to us the things of Christ in the way of communion. Indeed 
what is told us of the prophet John himself throughout the 
book shews tliat he did not always nor of necessity appreciate 
the meaning of that wliich he beheld in the Spirit. In other 
words he saw a sort of panorama, and recorded the visions just 
as they appeared to himself; and we liave to use the word of 
God by the Spirit to know what the symbols imply. We are 
not to suppose that the event itself will be a mere formal repe- 
tition of what the prefiguration was, but a reality answering to 
the foreseen shadow,* 

* The excessive fancifulncss and uncertainty of the schemes of interpreting 
the trumpets, especially of those who deny that they follow the seals and attempt 
to deduce a stream parallel to them, may be gleaned from the subjoined sketch 
drawn up by one of the ablest of themselves. " It will be enough to select nine 
or ten commentators, of considerable eminence and reputation, that the diversity 
of their views, in detail, may be seen ; while there is uniform agreement in the 
main idea, that these trumpets denote political judgments which fell in the early 
ages on the Roman empire. Let us compare Mede, Cressencr, Sir Isaac Newton, 
Whiston, and Lowman ; and of living authors, Mr. Faber, Mr. Cuninghamc, 
Mr. Frere, and Dr. Keith, with the last of whom Mr. Elliott nearly agrees in the 
arrangement of this jjart of the prophecy. The first trumpet l/e</i>is, according 
to Lowman, in the time of Constaniiue ; according to Mr. Cuninghamc and 
Mr. Frere, with the dea/h of Valentinian, a.d. 376, and cuds with the death of 
Theodosius, a.d. 395. But Mede, Newton, Dr. Keith, and Mr. Elliott, make it 
beffin with the deafh of T/icodosius, and reach to the death of Alaric, a.d. 410. 
Crcsscner and Whiston include in it both periods. Mr. Faber agrees with 
Mode and Newton in its commencement, but continues it fort;/ years after 
Alaric's death, a.d. 395-450. The second, according to Lowman, Mr. Cuning- 
hame, and Mr. Frere, reaches from Theoditsius to Alaric, the exact interval which 
Mede, Newton, Dr. Keith, and Mr. Elliott assign to the first. Mede refers it to 
iho fall of the Roman sovereignty, a.d. 410-465; Cressencr, to the Transalpine 
invasions, a.d. 410-448; Sir Isaac Newton, to the ViKir/oths and Vandals, 407- 
427 ; Whiston, Mr. Faber, and Dr. Keith, to the Vandals only, but within diflFer- 
ont limits, a.d. 407-450, 439-447, and 429-477 respectively. The third trumpet 
by Sir Isaac Newton is applied to the Vandals, a.d. 427-430 ; by Whiston, Mr. 
Cuninghamc, and Dr. Keith, to Attilr and the Jlniis, a.d. 441-462; by Mode, 
Cressencr, and Lowman, to tho troubles of Italy, or settinr/ of the Western Casar, 
A.D. 450-470; by Mr. Faber, to tho same, ^vithin narrow limits, a.d. 462-47G; 
and by Mr. Frere, to the Ncstorian heresy. Lastly, tho fourth is referred by 
Mr. Cuningliame to tho fall of the empire, a.d. 455-476; by AVlnVton, to the 
extinction itself, a.d. 476 ; by Mede, Crossonor, Lowman, and Dr. Keith 
to tho subsequent eclipse of Some, a.d. 476-540; by Sir Isaac Newton, to the 
wars of Belisarius, a.d. 535-552 ; by Mr. Faber and Mr. Frere, to the reign 


Tlius, when the first blast is sounded, there comes a violent 
tempest of hail and fire mingled with blood — the blood dis- 
tinguishing it from all previous storms, as being beyond nature. 
This betokened or ushered in a furious, sanguinary, and de- 
structive outburst that would agitate and rage over its sphere. 
"And the third* of the earth was burnt up, and the third of 

of Phocas and the Persian invasion of the East, a.d. 602-610. The remark of 
Mr. Faber on these dififercnces, in earlier writers, is very natural and just. 
' While they agree that the downfall of the Roman power in the West is at 
least the most prominent object of the prophecy, scarcely any two expositors 
concur as to the division of that subject among the several trumpets, that are 
supposed to relate to it. The general result brought out is the subversion of the 
Western empire, but the particular steps are as multifarious and discordant as 
can well be imagined. So curious a circumstance may well be deemed the 
opprobrium of Apocalyptic interpretation, and may naturaUj' load us to suspect 
that the true key to the distinct application of .the four first trumpets has never 
yet been found, or, if found, has never yet been satisfactorily used.' The 
natural inference from this strange variety of opinion among the best expositors 
is, that the historical divisions thny have adopted or assumed are dim and vague, 
when compared with the distinctness of the emblems in the four trumpets." — 
BLrks' Mysterij of Frovide)ice, pp. 103, 104. I must add, however, that few have 
exceeded Mr. B. in the loose rein ho has allowed himself in applying this chapter. 
Verses 2-4 are called the season of intercession, and are applied to the time 
from Nerva till after Aurelius (a.d. 86-180) — why then, more than at any other 
epoch, does not clearly appear. Then verses 5, 6, are the warning and prepara- 
tion (a.d. 181-248) ; next, verse 7, the first trumpet (a.d. 250-268), with an 
imaginary pause of judgment (a.d. 270-365) ; verses 8, 9, the second (a.d. 365- 
476) ; verses 10, 11, the third (a.d. 431-565) ; verse 12, the fourth (a.d. 540-622). 
Verse 13 might be thought to denote at least as much as the invisible pause of 
j ndgment between verses 7 and 8, but it is passed by without any chronological 
notice. Indeed, the first woo is made to trench even upon the fourth trumpet, 
being dated a.d. 609-1063, as the second a.d. 1037-1453. But I have reason to 
believe the author has abandoned it, and now in the main coalesces with Mr. 

* "The third" is an expression often occui-ring in the first four trumpets. 
It refers, as I conceive, to the Wistcrn part of the Roman empire. In chapter 
ix. wc find it again in a different connexion where it must be modified in mean- 
ing ; for there can be no doubt, I think, that the first two woe-trumpets (what- 
ever may be thought of the last) find their local application in the East, In 
fact, this is so clear that one writer of our day would rule the use of the phrase 
in chapter viii. by its undoubted oriental (or, as he perhaps would call it, Greek) 
reference in the following chapter. But this is obviously illegitimate, and the 
ordinal allusion to the third emblem of Daniel is an error. In itself " the third" 
defines nothing, save that there is a tri-partite division. It is equally appli- 
cable to any of the three parts : to ascertain which particularly is meant, wc 
must take the context into account. 



the trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up" (verse 
7). This evidcntlydoes not refer to the literal earth, trees, or 
herbage. In scripture grass is the symbol connnonly used to 
denote man in his weakness, his very glory being like the flower 
of grass. Human prosperity then would be set fortli by green 
grass. Here we have a judgment of God upon it. Not a certain 
part only, however large, but the whole of it is destroyed. The 
trees represent such as are high and exalted among men. It is a 
very connuon symbol in the word of God to express those that 
are deeply rooted, with a lofty bearing and extensive influence 
here below. (Look for instance at Ezek. xxxi. 3 ; Dan. iv., &c.) 
Thus, then, a blow is struck at a defined part of the scene of 
God's moral dealings ; and both the low universally, and the 
higher classes to a large extent, feel the ruinous effects. 

The second blow supposes a great change ; it falls on the sea, 
and so refers not to that sphere which is under special and 
settled government, but to what is or will then be in a state of 
confusion and anarchy. The nations which are in this condition 
do not remain scatheless. " And the second angel sounded : and 
as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the 
sea ; and the third of the sea became blood ; and tlie third of 
the creatures whicli were in the sea, that had life, tlied ; and tlie 
third of tlie ships were destroyed " If Jeremiah be consulted, 
it will be seen that these tilings arc not explained arbitrarily or 
out of mere imagination. As this is not so common a judg- 
ment, it would seem that God deigns to furnish us witli another 
example ; for just where we should be likely to make mistakes, 
there God conies in with light and instruction. The " mountain 
burning with fire" represents a system of power, itself under 
the judgment of God and the occasion of judgment to otliers. 
In Jer. li. 25 it is said, " IJehold, I am against thee, destroying 
mountain, saith the Lord, which destroy est all the earth ; and I 
will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from 
the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain." There we 
have what answers, in some measure, to what we have here. 
Babylon, in Jeremiah, was to be "a burnt mountain," hurled 
down from its place of eminence. Here the mountain is said to be 
" burning." Babylon was itself to be as a consumed or deaUoyed 


Tiiountain. Here the mountain is the means of destroying 
others, as in the Jewish prophet : " destroying mountain, 
saith the Lord, wliicli de.stroyest all the eai-th." 

A mountain is regularly the symbol of settled and exalted 
power; but here it is cast into thie sea, because it is made the 
means of judgment to others, and not merely the object of judg- 
ment itself. The Lord Jesus Himself uses a part of the figure 
with regard to Israel. Seeing a fig-tree with nothing but leaves, 
He pronounced that no fruit should grow, nor man eat of it 
henceforward for ever. He had come and found no fruit upon 
it, only abundance of leaves. And presently the fig-tree withered 
away. Now almost every person who has read the word of God 
with care has viewed that fig-tree as the .symbol of Israel, re- 
sponsible to bear fruit unto God, but completely failing to do 
so. The fig-tree was figurative of " that generation," and in 
connexion with this the Lord says to His disciples, "ye shall 
not only do this .... but also if ye shall say unto this moun- 
tain. Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be 
done." And so it was done ; for no sooner had the apostles' 
testimony gone out to Lsrael, and Israel had utterly rejected 
what the Holy Ghost preached to them therein, than judgment 
came upon tliern. It was not merely that they bore no fruit, but 
there was a positive judgment and an uprooting from where they 
were. The mountain was cast into the sea; the place and nation 
of Israel completely disappeared in the mass of the Gentiles. 
This was much more than their merely ceasing to produce fruit. 
Their polity was broken up and completely vanislied, just as 
much as a mountain would be that was torn up from its base 
and cast into the sea. 

So here a great power, that seemed to be settled, is removed 
from its place, and that power is not so much shattered itself 
as it is made the means of suffering to others. It is burning 
with fire, and the consequence is destruction to the third of 
living creatures and ships in the sea, the whole being a figure 
taken from what would be the effect of a volcano cast into the 
sea. It is thus that the Lord fills up the picture of destruction 
by a great consuming power that falls upon confused masses of 
people, with human carnage and political anarchy as the result. 

N 2 


There may be some more precise meaning, Lut I am only pre- 
senting what little I see of the symbols, independent of their 
application to a particular time, place, or people. 

The third judgment in the series of the trumpets is of another 
kind. " The third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from 
heaven, burning as it were a torch, and it fell upon the third of 
the rivers, and upon the fountains of the waters ; and the name 
of the star is called Wormwood : and the third of the waters 
became wormwood ; and many of the men died of the waters, 
because they were made bitter." Now a star, as we have seen in 
an earlier chapter, though in another connexion (chap. i. 20), is 
the figure of one who holds a place of subordinate authority — 
one who may give light to others — suljject himself to another, 
but still ruling. Here it is a degraded ruler, a dignitary fallen 
from his place of authority. Waters are the symbol of people 
unformed, fountains are the sources of their refreshment, and a 
river that which characterises their course. A certain proportion 
is tainted by the fall of the star or ruler, which embitters what- 
ever it touches, and many die because of the waters being made 
bitter. Here the infliction seems not so much of a political kind 
as the previous judgment; it is rather the poisoning of all 
that ought to be the means of blessing to man and that concerns 
his ordinary life. 

Under the fourth trumpet there is something higher. The 
waters are poisoned before; but now we find that the highest 
authorities are touched. It is not a star that falls from heaven, 
but tlie third of the sun, and the third of tlie moon, and the 
third of the stars are smitten ; " that the third of them misiht 
be darkened, and the day should not shine for the third thereof, 
and the night likewise." I apprehend that this is a judgment 
of God on the supreme as well as the inferior authorities of the 
world within the given range, which are all to a certain extent 
extinguished, or at least eclipsed. 

An important question now arises — the proper fulfilment of 
these trumpet judgments. It is evident, however, that the 
answer must depend on the still larger issue of the time and 
condition to which the prophetic vision in general applies. For 
this is no matter of detail, but of broad principle, and it is not 


for me to deny the immense practical consequences of the true 
application on the one hand, or of views which mislead on the 
other. Believing that the seven epistles had an immediate literal 
hearing on the actual Asiatic assemblies of St. John's day, I 
for one cannot doubt that the seals prefigured the course of the 
Roman Empire from that epoch onward, and that they have thus 
had an application by no means immaterial (substantially as the 
ordinary historical system insists) down to the overthrow of 
X^aganism and the nominal supremacy of Christianity, with tbe 
natural results of vast accessions of souls from Israel in a 
measure, but far more from the Gentiles in that sphere and day. 
According to this idea, the early trumpets appear to me almost 
of necessity to refer : first, to the Gothic invasions of Alaric, 
Rhadagaisus, &c. ; secondly, to the depredations of Genseric and 
his Vandals ; thirdly, to the " scourge of God," as Attila the Hun 
was pleased to entitle himself ; and fourthly, to the memorable 
era signalised by the extinction of the Roman empire in the 

But fully allowing these intimations to be contained within 
the scope of the visions thus far, it is to my own mind manifest 
that the seven epistles are stamped with the most comprehensive 
aims, and from strong internal marks imply the varying phases 
which the house of God in its protracted existence here below 
would assume, till the Lord removes the faithful to heaven, 
keeping them out of the hour of temptation which awaits the 
earthly-minded, and spueing out of His mouth the self-compla- 
cent mass of Christendom. In harmony with this continuous 
and successive view of the churches, which in one shape or 
another has commended itself to godly and discerning enquirers 
of different ages, the most simple interpretation of chapters iv. 
and V. is, that they suppose the rapture and glorification of the 
church of the firstborn to have taken place, and that chapters 
vi. et seqq. begin to receive their grand fulfilment subsequent to 
that event. It is easy for an ingenious mind to conjure up diffi- 
culties and to muster objections in formidable array : no part of 
scripture, nor truth revealed in it, is exempt from exposure to 
attacks exactly similar. But nobody can deny that, going by the 
sacred text itself, this is the most natural way of taking chaps. 


iv. v., or that the common theory leaves these admirable scriptures 
without adequate adaptation to the then circumstances, whether 
we look at the scene as a whole or at the particular figures therein 
exhibited. Their occurrence here, on the ordinary view, is an 
enormous, unexplained and perhaps, it may be added, inexpli- 
cable difficulty ; but with the rapture of the saints, then an 
accomplished fact as the key, they are a beautiful and needed 
preface to all that follows. 

Nor this only ; for Eev. vi. and the chapters that succeed 
raise the fundamental question, whether churches or Christians, 
in the proper sense of the terms, are any longer involved in the 
scenes they depict on earth, when their full, and not merely their 
inchoate, accomplishment is in progress. Why should writers 
on prophecy, without anything like reasonable show of evidence, 
assume the affirmative ? Why not prove it, if they can ? The 
more indispensable the point may be to the popular system, the 
less satisfactory to unbiassed persons it seems to find its advo- 
cates preserving a silence so absolute, not indeed as regards re- 
iterating and reasoning from that assumption, but as to attempting 
a demonstration. Who can allege that the proposition is self- 
evident? Who does not know that there are man}' intelligent 
students of the prophetic word who believe that not the church 
but a godly Jewish remnant, with Gentiles converted but sepa- 
rate, are the parties contemplated and directly concerned in the 
struggles of the latter day ? Is it not worth discussing ? What 
prophetic question more vital or more comprehen,sive ? It would 
not be charitable to impute this singular reticence to a feeling 
of contempt for their brethren ; neither would it be fair to in- 
sinuate that they are conscious of their own inability to give 
some appearance of scriptural proof in favour of their sentiments. 

AVe deny that these prophecies, precious as they are for our 
profit, are fully, much less exclusively, about the church: if any 
assert that such is the case, on them lies the burden of proving 
it. It is simply taken for granted. Would it not be better to 
gather up and present, as forcibly as may be, the evidence which 
strikes their own minds? We appeal to tlie very scriptures in 
debate, some as clearly evincing a glorified condition of the 
Christian body in heaven, before the earthly judicial events 


transpire, others as clear that Jews and Gentiles, distinct from 
each other and not associated in one body like the church, are 
after this seen on earth, and that they are the real objects in 
the crisis of the close. If we are right, a vast amount of the 
differences among those who study the subject would be decided 
without further contest. Why then waste time in the shallow 
fields of Germanising Praeterists or of Eomanising Futurists ? 
Why not grapple with the evidence produced by Christians who 
are, through God's mercy, at least as far removed from Babylon 
as the most zealous of Protestants can pretend to be ? If this, 
as I am sure, be the sound and satisfactory interpretation, we are 
not compelled to bend the past into a reluctant and far-fetched 
accomplishment, nor are we at liberty to explain away the fre- 
quent and obvious indices of the future. It satisfies all just 
requirement that there be an unforced and general resemblance, 
sufficient to shew the direct finger of God, yet not such as to 
exhaust the prediction, but rather to leave room for a still closer 
final application when the saints, body and soul, are above. 

"And I beheld and heard an eagle* flying through mid- 
heaven, saying with a loud voice. Woe, woe, woe, to the dwellers 
on the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the 
three angels which are yet to sound" (verse 13). It was an eagle, 
I believe, which John saw here, an angel in Eev. xiv. 6, to which 
our verse may have been assimilated, if the two words were not 
confounded by mere carelessness. The eagle's flight in mid- 
heaven was the dark and most suited harbinger of comins woe. 
Nor is there any real difficulty in its loud utterance ; for the 
altar itself is, in the true text, made to speak in chapter xvi. 7. 

We have had the preliminary judgments ushered in by the 
first four trumpets. They dealt, to a certain extent, with man's 
prosperity high or low — first, in the settled ordered system, and 

* Mr. E. refers after Zullig to the "learned critic" Wolf's preference of the 
common text. I doubt that he would have cited such an auxiliary, if he had been 
aware that the main object of the Curae Philol. seems to be the maintenance of 
the received readings against the best authorities, and esi^ecially in opposition 
to Bengel. Besides, he is far from positive in this, though greatly suspecting 
aiTov. " Quod si tamen aquilae mentio facta censeri debeat, malim omnino cum 
Seideliano codice et Primasio legere ayyeXou wg atrov ireTwukvov." — (C. P., vol. 
V. p. 514.) 


next in a state of confusion; then the blow fell on the means 
of human enjoyment, turned into bitterness and destruction; 
and lastly, the whole fabric of political rule, supreme and sub- 
ordinate, has to suffer a notable eclipse.* Thus, it was a judg- 
ment of circumstances, rather than a personal visitation. But 
we also see a closing intimation of still deeper iniiictions, marked 
off in the most definite way from the series that preceded : 
" Woe, woe, woe, to those that dwell on the earth," &c. The un- 
sealed do not escape in the first; the third of men are killed in 

* I know but must demur to the reasoning of Mr. E. in behalf of the suppo- 
sition that the literal and the symbolical are mingled in these trumpets. The 
general examples of figure and fact from Ps. xxii. prove nothing for such a book 
as the Apocalypse. The real question, as he feels himself, is one of .admitting 
literal geography into obviously symbolical prophecies. So, again, an incidental 
allusion (as in Ezek. xxvii. 26 ; xxxii. 6, 7 ; Ps. Ixxx. 8, 11 ; Jer. iii. 6,) is not 
fairly to be compared with an elaborate orderly series of symbolical images, as 
in our prophecy, where earth and sea have a definite meaning, quite independent 
of literal locality ; the former referring to the scene of settled government, and 
the latter to a state of anarchy (cf. Rev. xii. 12 ; xiii. 2, 11). Indeed, the in- 
stances of Rev. xiii. are admitted on all hands. It is most natural, therefore, to 
adhere to the same sense of the prophetic language in our chapter. The mean- 
ing afforded also seems simple and excellent, without the incongruous mixture 
contended for. And as we saw under the seals, so here in the trumpet series, the 
fourth, not to speak of the third, presents an insuperable barrier. For surely, 
we must take the heavenly luminaries in a homogeneous sense ; and how then 
can these be understood literally ? The occurrence of the figure in the woe- 
trumpets would not have been so conclusive ; for a difference there is, when we 
enter on the fifth trumpet. But it is in the fourth that we have sun, moon, and 
stars smitten. If these, then, arc confessedly symbolical, why cut the thread of 
consistency ? why not interpret the three preceding trumpets, as to land, sea, 
river, and fountains, in a kindred spirit ? The solo reason I can conceive for the 
opposite course is the dilBculty that is found in adapting the successive inroads 
of the barbarians, in a sufficiently definite form, to the various tnmipet-blasts. 
But even so, what ineftectual effort and uncertainty after all ! If I imderstand 
the llorue A., i. in loco, "the burning of trees and herbage" is viewed physically 
by one who is generally the intrepid antagonist of literalism in the mouths of 
his Futurist friends. Why not exjTOund tlie burning of the third of the earth, 
which critics admit must bo received into the text ? Taken figiu-ativcly, all is 
easy and plain, as well as harmonious. Again, if the thunders, lightnings, 
voices, and earthquake in chapter viii. 5 are answered by the primary insurrec- 
tion of the Goths under Alaric, immediately after the death of Theodosius the 
Great, what is the analogous reference of the lightnings, voices, and thimdors of 
chapter iv. 6 '( Mr. Birks has urged repeated inst^mces where the prefiguration 
ill accords with Mr. E.'s alleged fulfilment in history ; but I am not careful to 
insist on such points. 


the second. Under the last we come, in a general way, to the 
end of all. 

"The dwellers on earth" may have a local significance, especially 
during the great final crisis. But it appears to me that a survey 
of the various occurrences of the phrase warrants the conclusion 
that a moral force is the chief and most prominent intention of 
the Spirit. Twice has it been seen in the Apocalypse before 
this, and it plays an increasingly grave part as we draw near 
the close. First it is found in the epistle to the angel of the 
church in Philadelphia, where the Lord promises to keep those 
who kept the word of His patience, from the hour of temptation, 
which is to come upon all the habitable world, to try them that 
dwell on the earth. (Eev. iii. 10.) The reason, I suppose, why the 
earthly-minded are brought out so distinctly there is, because the 
church in question supposes an unusual apprehension of Christ, 
and this in a heavenly way, both as to present enjoyment of 
Him, and as to the hope of His return. Hence the contrast of 
the portion of tliose whose hearts were here below. They shall 
eat the bitter fruit of their choice when the great tribulation 
comes, as those whose affections are set on heavenly things will 
then actually be where they dwell now in spirit. Next under 
the fifth seal (Kev. vi. 10) the souls of the early Apocalyptic 
sufferers are represented as calling upon the Sovereign Lord to 
judge and avenge their blood on "them that dwell on the earth." 
These will then have broken out into relentless, deadly persecu- 
tion against the witnesses, whom God will have on earth when 
the seals are being fulfilled. Now under the woe -trumpets, 
we find them to be the special objects. Further details we 
must defer till we come to the chapters that treat of them more 



A PREFATORY remark I may be permitted to make is, that our 
chapter furnishes an incidental proof that the trmiipets are not 
coincident with the seals. For the sealing was given in the large 
parenthesis (Kev. vii.) which followed the sixth seal, whereas it 
is referred to, not after the sixth trumpet, but before it. This 
could not be if the two series of judgments ran parallel to each 
other. The natural, and I believe true, inference is, that the 
seals had finished their course before the trumpets begin, so 
that when the fifth trumpet sounds the first " woe," the men of 
the earth fall under its predicted torment, those who were sealed 
being referred to as in the scene, but exempted from the scourge. 
How could there be a commission to hurt nothing but those men 
who have not the seal of God, if there had been no sealing yet? 
If the sealing had already taken place, parallelism there is not 
between the respective seals and trumpets, nor can they even 
harmonize in point of time. They are consecutive, and not con- 
current, and the last seal, as we have seen, is the mere prelude 
of silence for the new series of divine plagues to commence. 
How could that be if they were to be accomplished side by 
side? For if the first six seals confessedly follow in regular 
order, the seventh must be the last in accomplislirnent, as well 
as in revelation ; but the seventh, instead of shadowing some 
additional dealing in providence like its predecessors, is only 
a brief pause in heaven ushering in another and more severe 
class of decreed judgments. And of these trumpets we must 
now enter upon the fifth and sixth (that is, the first two woes), 
to which chap. ix. is devoted. 

" And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fallen from 


heaven unto the earth ; and to him was given the key of the 
pit of the abyss. And he opened the pit of the abyss ; and 
there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great 
furnace ; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of 
the smoke of the pit. And out of the smoke came locusts unto 
the earth, and to them was given power as the scorpions of the 
earth have power. And it was commanded them that they 
should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, 
nor any tree, but the men who have not the seal of God upon 
their foreheads" (verses 1-4). 

The star fallen from heaven to earth is a dignitary in an 
apostate state ; for a real personage is intended, as the next 
words shew — "to Mm was given the key of the pit of the 
abyss." The allusion seems evident to Isaiah xiv, 12, where 
the king of Babylon is taunted with " How art thou fallen, O 
Lucifer [i.e., day-star], son of the morning ? . . . . Yet thou shalt 
be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit." Here it is not 
his doom, but the authority he was permitted to exercise over 
the abyss, which is the expression of the source of Satanic evil 
and misery. " He opened the pit of the abyss, and there arose 
a smoke out of it, as the smoke of a great furnace," the symbol 
of a delusion which darkens the mind of man. " The sun and 
the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit." The 
supreme power and all healthful social influence suffer pre- 
eminently from its blinding effects. Nor was this the sole 
result. " Out of the smoke came locusts," the figure of the 
aggressive instruments of rapine, and these clothed with a 
singular power of torment, "as the scorjiions of the earth have 
power." The command given shews, I think very plainly, the 
error of such as apply the locusts in a literal way. They were 
not to hurt the grass of the earth, &c., that is, their natural 
food, if real locusts were meant. Men were to be the objects 
of these symbolic depredators men, save God's sealed ones. 
And yet it was the destiny of these marauders not to kill, but 
to torment men five months (verse 5). It is a limited predatory 
chastisement, not judgment-day. " And their torment [was] as 
the torment of a scorpion when it striketh a man. And in those 
days shall men seek death, and shall not find it ; and shall desire 


to die, and death fleeih from them" (verse 6). Nothing on earth 
can exceed the agony of conscience which will be inflicted on 
their victims. It is a yet stronger colouring of wretchedness 
than that in which Jeremiah (chapter viii. 3) depicts the deso- 
lated and dispersed Jews in all the places whither they should 
be driven in tlie Lord's sore displeasure. 

But there is a further description. "And the likenesses of 
the locusts [were] like horses prepared for battle ; and [there 
were] on their heads as it were crowns of gold; and their 
faces [were] as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair 
of women, and their teeth were as [the teeth] of lions. And 
they had breastplates as it were iron breastplates, and the sound 
of their wings [was] as the sound of chariots of many horses 
running to battle. And they have tails like scorpions, and 
stings ;* and their power [was] in their tails to hurt men five 
months. They have as king over them the angel of the abyss ; 
his name in the Hebrew tongue [is] Abaddon ; and in the Greek 
tongue he hath the name Apollyon" (verses 7-11). 

Tliey were not mere plunderers, but had warlike energy, and 
they claimed for their onward-rushing career the righteous sanc- 
tion of God, whose image and glory they bore outwardly, whereas 
in truth they were thoroughly subject to man and Satan too. 
Ferocity is theirs, and hearts steeled against every emotion of 
pity in their swift career. But their worst power was the venom 
of falsehood which followed. It was the energy of false doctrine, 
represented by the scorpion sting in the tail. And we know from 
elsewhere, " the prophet that speaketh lies, he is the tail." 

Finally, the king is the angel of the abyss, the same perhaps 
as the fallen star, who had the key of the pit. If so, it is a 
dark Satanic destroyer, if not Satan. It is in this world that 
the devil is so exalted, its prince ; he is ruler also of the power 
of the air and the god of this age. In the abyss he will be 
bound as a prisoner for a long season ; in iioll he will be tor- 
mented for ever and ever, the most miserable object there, and 
in no ^yise ruling as king in either the one or the other. So 
poets dream ; but not so says the scripture. 

* Tho common reading is followed by the authorised version, " and there 
were stings : and their power was to hurt men five months." 


" And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the 
four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to 
the sixth angel which had the trumpet. Loose the four angels 
that are bound at the great river Euphrates. And the four 
angels were loosed, that were prepared for* the hour and day 
and month and year, for to slay the third of men. And the 
number of the army of the horsemen [was] twot myriads of 
myriads : I heard the number of then). And thus I saw the 
horses in the vision, and those that sat on them, having breast- 
plates fiery and hyacinthine and brimstone-like ; and the heads 
of the horses [were] as the heads of lions ; and out of their 
mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By tliese three 
plagues was the third of men killed, by the fire, and the smoke, 
and the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For the 
power of the horses is in their mouth, and in their tails : for 
their tails were Kke unto serpents, and had heads, and with 
them they do hurt. And the rest of the men who were not 
killed by these plagues repented not of the works of their hands, 
that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold and 
silver and brass and stone and wood : which can neither see, 
nor hear, nor walk : neither repented they of their murders, nor 

* Mr. Elliott seems singularly unfortunate in his remarks on the Greek text. 
Thus, in verse 15, he contends for the strangest possible version of etc, as = after, 
or at the expiration of, the aggregated period in question ; and he twice in i. p. 
518, 519, speaks of a-TioKTiivat, a form and import different from 'iva aTroKrtivwaiv, 
the true phrase beyond all doubt, as he gives it in p. 521. It needs no reasoning 
to see that the action is not momentary but continuous, and that the preposition 
therefore has its ordinary sense, as Mr. Birks has properly remarked. 

t Mr. E. is quite wrong {JI. A., i. p. 480, note) in supposing that Gricsbach 
prefers altogether to reject the ^vo. Michaelis considers it " a very improbable 
reading" in the ill-considered and unsound last chapter of his Introduction. No 
such doubt is expressed, but, on the contrary, 5vo is the reading preferred, both 
in Griesbach's first and second edition, and in the London reprint, 1810, 1818. 
This odd mistake is repeated in yet stronger terms in note 2 to p. 506, where it 
is said that Griesbach, on external evidence, prefers the more simple reading ft. fi. 
"which seems to me preferable on internal also." The common text, read by 
many cursives, tirrns out to be that of the Sinai MS., and its equivalent in sense 
appears in the Alexandrian and the Porphyrian uncials, and a few good later 
copies. B and very many others, supported by the Arabic of the Polyglotts and 
a Slav. MS., but contrary to all other ancient versions, omit Svo. Matthaei 
follows them in that reading, which is the easier of the two. All other editors 
of note, like Griesbach, retain the Ivo, Svg, or dig. 


of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts" 
(verses 13-21). 

It is the voice of the Lord, no doubt, which is heard from the 
horns of the golden altar. But what a solemn sound is this — 
above all, issuing thence ? For ordinarily that altar is the special 
witness of His all -prevailing intercession. Thence the incense 
rose up before God. It was the horns of the brazen altar merely 
which received the blood of the sin-offering, when an individual 
sinned, whether a ruler or one of the common people. But when 
the whole congregation were guilty, the priest was commanded 
to put some of the victim's blood on the horns of the golden 
altar; for the communion of the people as a whole was inter- 
rupted, and needed to be restored. Here how different ! The 
voice from the four horns of the golden altar orders the angel of 
the sixth trumpet to loose the four angels that were up to that 
time bound at (or by) the Euphrates. There they had been pre- 
pared for (not " an," but) the hour and day and month and year 
to slay the third of men. They were prepared, not during that 
time, much less when it was expired, but with a view to it: 
when that hour and day and month and year arrived, or rather 
until the term was over, they were ready to accomplish their 
prescribed slaugliter. They destroyed men by apostacy. 

Still, if it be terrible to hear such a signal from the altar of 
incense, how comforting to think that all in the judgment is so 
minutely ordered and fore-ordained of the Lord ! He it is who 
first gives the word, and gives it to the holy angel. The angel 
again looses the four bound at the Euphrates. The evil can only 
act when and as far as is allowed of the good, and the good, 
however they may excel in strength, only do His command- 
ments, hearkening unto the voice of His word. The notion that 
we are to identify the four here with the angels who restrained 
the winds in chap. vii. is strange, seeing that contrast is marked, 
not resemblance. Here they are not restraining but restrained, 
which is nowhere said of the holy angels. There they stood at 
the four corners of the earth, as separate as they could be ; here 
all are bound in the same sj)ot. 

As to the character of the second- woe itself, it is not torment 
like the lirst, but destruction of life. Not that there is no 


element of false prophecy here, as also was there ; " for the 
power* of the horses," it is said, "is in their mouth and in their 
tails: for their tails [are] like serpents, and have heads, and with 
them they do hurt." Tliat is, venomous error they propagated 
and left behind them, and this with more settled plan than in 
the locust-woe. The locusts in the first woe had scorj^ion-like 
tails and stings: the horses in the second had serpent-like tails, 
which had heads. But they had power in their mouth also. 
" And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and those that sat on 
them, having breastplates of fire and jacinth, and like brim- 
stone : and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions ; 
and out of their mouths proceeded fire and smoke and brim- 
stone." It is the judicial power of Satan, as far as God permits 
that. Besides, it far surpasses in energy and aggressive de- 
structive warfare the preceding woe. This was spiritual — evilly 
so, of course ; the second is more destructive, though in its 
train follows the injury of the enemies' delusion and falsehood. 
It seems also more varied as far as leaders go ; for the other 
had but one, this had four angelic agents at the head. 

"And the rest of the men who were not killed by these 
plagues repented not," &c. Humbling lesson, and most needful 
to remember ! God has been sending judgment upon judgment, 
first on men's circumstances, and then on themselves, and in 
this last case torment, and finally death itself. But it is in vain. 
Such is man after all this, that he repents not of his evil, either 
religiously or morally. Satan's last effort remains. 

The reader will perceive that I am merely anxious to present 
the leading feature of each woe, as far as I am enabled, so as in 
some measure to help souls to the understanding of the pro- 
phecy. This, he will remember, is a very distinct thing from 

* In note 5 to p. 513 of the Ilorae Apoc, vol. i., Mr. E. omits, "Mill reads" in 
his last edition, and contents himself with the remark " at t^ovaiai arjruiv, ' their 
authoritien are in their tails,' is the notable reading in some MSS. The word is 
similarly used in the plural, Luke xii. 11 ; Rom. xiii. 1, &c." How strange is the 
effect of a system ! The truth is that the plural here is due to Erasmus's, 
which It. Stephens followed! And Mill's text is merely third edition with 
some errata corrected. It is clear from Mill's note that the evidence is entinjly 
adverse. There is not a shadow of doubt that the singular is right; and 
probably al yap ovpai led to a'l yap i^ovffiai. 


the application of a prophecy. The question of the persons, or 
places, or times alluded to, may be deeply interesting, but it is 
subordinate to the understanding of the book. 

For my own part, I do not doubt that the common ajiplication 
of the locusts to the Saracens and of the Euphratean horsemen 
to the Turks is well founded. But we have seen repeatedly that 
the fulfilment of the Eevelation cannot properly be before the 
heavenly saints are caught up, and the earthly people are once 
more the objects of God's dealings on the earth and in their 
own land, though by no means to the exclusion of divine tes- 
timony and its blessed effects among the Gentiles. According 
to this later and final accomplishment, the second woe would 
be fulfilled, I suppose, in the early ravages of the north-eastern 
(or Assyrian) armies, as the first might be antichrist's delusive 
agency in the land of Palestine. I conceive that when the 
prophecy will be realised in all its precision, the scene where 
these mysterious locusts are to enact their bitter but transitory 
torment will be the land where- at that time the Jews will have 
largely gathered, but as regards the mass in unbelief The un- 
sealed naturally points to them and most probably to their land. 
For it will be noticed that there is no " third " under this 
trumpet to intimate the direction of the woe, nor any index 
that I observe, save the exemption of the sealed. The rest of the 
Jews were still in judicial blindness, and are the implied objects 
of this judgment. If they are the preparatory movements of 
these two powers, each is as decidedly opposed to the other as 
both are to the Lord Jesus : they are to bi; successively judged 
and destroyed when He comes in power and glory. 

It is interesting to observe that the same chap. xiv. of Isaiah, 
which I referred to as an illustration of the star fallen from 
heaven {i.e., the chief personage under the first woe), treats also 
of the Assyrian enemy, which I judge to be the full meaning of 
those who figure under the second woe. " Tlie Lord of hosts hath 
sworn, saying. Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to 
pass ; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand ; that I will break 
the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him 
under foot ; then shall his yoke depart from off tliem, and his 
burden depart fioin off their shoulders. This is the purpose 


that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand 
that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the Lord of 
hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it ? and his hand 
is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" (verses 24-27.) 
The difference is that Isaiah gives us the end of their career for 
the deliverance of Israel, while St. John shews us rather its 
beginning and course, as a scourge upon apostate Judaism and 
Christendom. It would be a mistake to limit Isaiah to the 
bygone history, or to take the past as more than a type of the 
future, however important in its day. For in the history the 
Assyrian fell first, and Babylon's doom was long after. In the 
prophecy it is the last representative of Babylon {i.e., the beast 
of the crisis,) who is destroyed first, and then he who answers 
to the great Assyrian leader of the nations shall come to his 
end, and none shall help him. So it is written in Isaiah x. 12, 
" Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath 
performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, 
I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, 
and the glory of his high looks," &c. Our chapter of the Keve- 
lation gives us some of the early policy of the Assyrian, if not 
of antichrist, or of their respective parties. 

According to the more vague and protracted historical appli- 
cation, which I conceive to liave been comprehended in the 
divine purpose of these visions, it may be asked how this chap- 
ter is to be understood. I have already briefly shewn how the 
earlier trumpets brought us down to the extinction of the 
Western Roman empire. Pursuing the same thread, the fifth 
trumpet has a distinct bearing upon the Saracenic infliction, as 
the sixth refers to the furious onset of the Turks. Hence one 
is quite willing to allow the general reference of the fallen star 
to Mohammed, who was the instrument of Satan in opening on 
the world the delusion of the abyss, with all its darkening effects. 
Certainly the description suits in many of its characteristic 
features, not the gradual growth and spread of the doctrinal 
and moral pravities of Christendom, but that host of marauders 
who, embracing with ardour the hell-inspired creed of the Ai'a- 
bian false prophet, sprang forth on their ambitious and fanatical 
career. Not that I can accept without serious drawback much 


that has been made of the local or national significance of the 
locusts and the scorpions, the horses and the lions, the faces 
of men, the hair of women, and the breastplates of iron. For 
instance, it is plain that the nation, whose rapid devastation of 
Palestine is portrayed in Joel ii. (the prototype of the Apocalyp- 
tic locusts), has nothing to do with the Saracens or Arabia, but 
is rather the northern army, "the Assyrian," of which the 
Jewish prophets so often speak. Compare also Nahum iii. 17, 
the reference of which confirms the same thing. An exactly 
similar argument applies to the use of " scorpions " as in Ezek. 
ii. 6, where it is used figuratively as here, but with not the most 
distant alance at the robbers of the desert. As to the "horses" 
the very next vision of the Euphratean warriors refutes the 
notion of a geographical reference ; for the Turks are a totally 
distinct race and emerged from a different quarter ; and yet 
horses are just as prominent here as in the prophecy of their 
precursors.* Also, in the one we have the heads, in the other the 
teeth, of " lions." This therefore destroys anything like an exclu- 
sively distinct usage, not to speak of the manifold application 
which other scriptures indicate. The truth is that the Spirit is 
making up an apt and complete symbolic picture, and in no way 
ties Himself to the animals, &c., peculiar to the countiy. 

To my mind the intention is moral, not geographical ; and 
this kind of teaching detracts from the real force of Scripture, 
occupying the mind with that which may be partially true in a 
natural way, but not I believe tlie object of the Holy Ghost. 
Hence does it not seem almost trifling to extract from the faces 
of men, the hair of women, and crowns like gold, an allusion to 
beard or moustache, coupled with literal flowing hair sur- 
mounted by a turban ? Taken as emblems of character, the 
dignity of the divine word is vindicated and felt. The locusts 
naturally point to countless swarms, devouring in specified 
limits, but more distinguished by the tormenting sting of false 

* Compare also what some of these very writers found upon the horses of 
Rev. vi Egypt is the first power historically celehratcd for its horses. (Exod. 
XV.) So it was the great market in Solomon's day (1 Kings x. 28), as Togarmah 
was for Tyre. (Ezek. xxvii. 14 ) See Isaiah xxxi. 1, 3. In Zechariah they sym- 
bolize the variouH imperial powers. 


doctrine. The unsealed, the men of the earth, were the victims 
of the scourge, but the object was a conquering propagandism : 
not the extinction of prosperity, but rather the maintenance of 
it at the expense of the truth, and this for a limited period. 
The resemblance to horses prepared for battle is the expression 
of their aggressive attitiide, and the crowns like gold seem to 
intimate their vaunted confidence in a divinely-righteous mission 
of victory. Their faces as of men, but with the hair of women, 
may denote that, with all their claim to act authoritatively in 
the name of God, they were nevertheless subject to the merest 
human authority, and not to God after all. The iron breastplates, 
the lion-teeth, the sounding wings, I regard as the figure of the 
unflinching courage of fanaticism (their strongest armour), and 
the ferocious depredations that accompanied their wonderfully 
rapid warfare. The Hebrew name of their king confirms, in my 
opinion, the fall reference to the special wasting of the Jews, as 
also a connexion with the Eastern Empire may be implied in 
the Greek. 

I have thus rehearsed the spiritual significance of the first 
woe's emissaries, stating particularly what might be supposed to 
prefigure the past accomplishment, according to which the five 
months, of course, must be taken as months of years. But I 
protest against the arbitrariness of interpreting one part of the 
account literally and the other figuratively. Again, if we ex- 
amine it closely, the utmost allowable is some such partial 
incipient accomplishment. For it is plain that the prophet of 
Mecca was more like a rising star than a fallen dignitary; inso- 
much that Mede, with the earlier writers in general, applies it 
to Satan, as others to the Pope, &c. Again, the command not to 
kill is very hard to reconcile with the exterminating policy of 
the Saracenic incursions ; and the term of 150 years has been 
doubled by some of great weight, because of a repeated mention 
(but compare Eev. xx.), in order to eke out a more plausible 
solution. Even this improbable inference from the twofold 
statement of the five months labours under its own difticulties, 
as others have sufdciently shewn. 

As regards the second woe, the first difficulty which the pro- 
tracted view has to encounter is the meaning of the four angels 



that were bound by the Euphrates. Most of the Protestant 
school ajjply them to four Mussulman powers, either successive 
or contemporaneous. But, says Mr. Elliott,* " the interpretations 
are found on examination to be one and all inadmissible. As 
the conunissioning and loosening of the four angels in vision was 
but a single act, so the agencies symbolized must necessarily 
have been at one and the same time loosed or commissioned : 
by which consideration alone all such successions of destroying 
agencies seemed excluded, as Vitriuga and after him Wood- 
house have suggested in explanation. And as to cotemporary 
Turkman dynasties, whether we refer to the list given by Mede, 
and by Newton after him, or that by Faber and by Keith, from 
Mills and Gibbon, there is no quaternion of them that can be 
shewn either to have combined together in the destruction of 
the Greek empire, — to have been all locally situated by the 
Euphrates, — to have had existence at the time asserted to be that 
of the commissioning of the four angels, — or to have continued 
in existence up to the time of the completion of tlie commission 
given, in tlie destruction of the Greek empire. In short, the 
manifest inconsistency with historic fact of every such attemjjted 
solution has been hitherto, in the minds of the more thoughtful 
and learned prophetic students, like as it were a millstone about 
the neck of the whole Turkish theory of interpretation." This 
at least is a candid confession, especially when we consider that 
it is about a prophecy which has been acquiesced in more gene- 
rally than any other perhaps in the Apocalypse. 

But what is the view suggested that is to leave the general 
application unencumbered? The resource of superhuman angelic 
intelligences directing the subordinate human energies, and this 
without reference to the number of earthly instruments em- 
ployed. In fact Mr. E. identifies these angels at the Euphrates 
with the angels parenthetically introduced in the sixth seal 
(chapter vii.), and reasons from the assumption that the judg- 
ments of the preceding trumpets were the probable results of 
their actings. But this, it is clear, does not hang well together 
with the scheme which insists that the fallen star of the first woe 
was not an angelic being but Mohannned. Consistency would 

* lloiae Apoc, i. pp. 488, 4'JO. 


demand, one would think, that if the angel of the abyss in the 
preceding trumpet sets forth a man, these four must represent 
similar leaders. Certainly these are in contrast with the angels 
whose office it was rather to restrain the winds tlian to urge 
on their devastating blasts. All the accessory circumstances 
strengthen their distinction. Again, the use made of the fire and 
smoke and brimstone which issued out of the horses' mouths, as 
if they prefigured the Turkish artillery, of the breastplates of fire 
and jacinth and brimstone, as an allusion to the Ottoman war- 
like apparel of scarlet, blue, and yellow, and of the serpent-like 
horsetails having heads, as the emblem of Turkish pashas, seems 
to me both inconsistent witli other parts of the Apocalypse, and 
(shall I say ?) grotesque in itself 

I deny not the application of the horsemen and horses to the 
past inroads of the Turks, as distinguished from their Saracen 
predecessors, devoting themselves to their destructive task in 
the Eastern Koman or Greek empire, with far more of system, 
and with more permanent results. In their fierce career they 
breathed out in no slight measure, along with all the old 
diabolical delusion, an infernal spirit of judgment; and as were 
their weapons, such was their armour. Fire and brimstone 
represent the most extreme form of divine judgment; for they 
are the same symbols used of the lake of fire at the end of 
alL things into whicli the wicked dead, after their resurrection 
and judgment, are to be cast. Again, it was this peculiarly 
Satanic power, not like the scorpion now, but the serpent, to 
whicli the Holy Ghost draws attention as the grand source of 
mischief The moral false-prophet action is there, and this too 
invested with authority ; for the tails had heads, and with them 
they do hurt. Throughout the permitted sphere the result was 
the utter extinction of Christian profession, while the rest, alas ! 
heeded not the warning. But these features, in my judgment, 
involve elements still more terrible than anything yet seen on 
earth ; so that all confirms me in the conviction that we must 
look for another and final answer to the imagery, in the last 
scourge for the corrupt and idolatrous East.* An awful sketch 

■* It may be seasonable here to notice briefly Dr. D. M'Causland's Latter 
Bays of JerusaUm and Borne. He regards (pp. 212, 213) the flood prevailing 


is given after the judgment has run its course : "And the rest 
of the men who were not killed by these plagues repented not of 
the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, 
and idols of gold and silver and of brass and of stone and of 
wood, which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk ; neither repented 
tliey of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their forni- 
cations, nor of their thefts." Thus even the apostacy of those 
who fell under the scourge from God fails to awaken the seared 
consciences of men, all the worse for having seen Init slighting 
the light of the gospel. Nothing then remains but a state of 
abandonment to all immorality and superstition. 

150 days upon the earth as the type of the fifth trumpet visitation ; but why 
the destruction of all flesh should tj'pify the torment, not the death, of the 
future victims, docs not appear. The sixth trumpet, he thinks, confirms this, 
because the time prescribed there (391 days and an hour) carries us down, if 
reckoned on the scale of a day for a year, from the deluge to the epoch of the 
judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. Now supposing there were no chronological 
objections, where is the congruity of taking the five months literally in the first 
■woe, and the hour and day and month and year symbolically in the second ? 
Besides, here again the destruction in the type exceeds the proportion of the 
antitype ; and, what is more material, our Lord applies both the deluge and the 
destruction of Sodom to the days of the Son of man, and the day when He is 
revealed. These would answer to Rev. xix , not to chapter ix., which discloses 
preliminary chastisements. Still less can I accept the singular idea that the four 
angels or their chivalry set forth Israel and Ephraim flying on the shoulders of 
the Philistines towards the west, and purging away the filth of Jerusalem. For 
"the men" he conceives to be the unsealed, who were to be tormented but not 
killed by the antichristian locusts : the horsemen of Israel finish the work. 

The same friend who directed Mr. E.'s attention to Griesbach's citation of 
avcfiovQ and dvt/ioi from 30 (Cod. Guclph. of the fourteenth century) for nyy 
in verses 14, 15, recalls this variation to me. It is also supported by 98. (Cod. 
Bodl. Can. of the sixteenth century.) But I agree with the editors in general 
that it is barely worth a notice. 



Some will remember a resemblance already pointed out between 
the two orders of seals and trumpets. When we come to the 
sixth in each series, there is an interruption of a most interest- 
ing kind. We saw that after the sixth seal there was such an 
episode, not of judgment but of mercy— God interfering on be- 
half of man, after the most signal convulsion among men and 
things on the earth ; and not only so, but the powers of the 
lieavens also shaken. Then we found God shewing us that in 
the midst of judgment He remembers mercy. For there was 
the sealing of a full complement out of the twelve tribes of 
Israel, and besides clear and affecting proof was furnished that 
the poor Gentiles were not forgotten. Thus, when the prophet 
looks, he sees a countless multitude out of all nations, and kin- 
dreds, and peoples, and tongues. These were evidently delivered 
by the great goodness of God, and come out of that terrible 
tribulation that is yet to be. Now in chap. ix. we have had the 
sixth trumpet ; and, answering to what we have seen in the 
seals, there is an interruption between it and the seventh 
trumpet, which is only announced in chap. xi. 15. There is a 
vision described of a very marked, and, considering the visions 
that accompanied all the trumpets, of an extraordinary character. 
A mighty angel comes down from heaven, who appears to be the 
Lord Himself So we saw in a previous chapter the angel-priest 
at the golden altar, putting incense to the prayers of the saints 
which He offered up to God. And I suppose few woidd imagine 
that God could commit this service of the heavenly sanctuaiy 
to any mere created being. In the Old Testament Jehovah had 


occasionally assumed an angelic form ; and as this book brings 
us back to a great deal wliicli is akin to the Jewish Scriptures, 
herein may be one reason why we have Christ thus taking the 
form of an angel. As before tlie trumpets were blown, the 
angel who gave the signal for all was seen in a 'priestly point of 
view, here he is in power preparing the way of the kingdom. 
Accordingly there is every circumstance of majesty surrounding 

" And I saw another mio-htv angel coming down from heaven, 
clothed with a cloud." The cloud, as any one will recollect who 
is conversant with scripture idea and phrase, was the well-known 
badge of Jehovali's presence. When the Lamb's blood was shed 
and Israel were being led out of the land of their bondage, God 
Himself went before them as the angel of the covenant, and the 
cloud was the visible form or token of it. (Ex. xiii. 21 ; xxiii. 20, 
23 ; xl. 36, 38 ; Num. ix. 15-23.) In the angel that we have here 
there is much that seems to indicate the presence of tlie Lord 
Himself, laying claim to the possession of the world at large. 
One remarkable sample may be remembered even in the New 
Testament, at the time when there was a little foreshadowing 
given of the coming kingdom. Now what was it that testified 
to the immediate presence of God ? and what made Peter and 
John tremble, accustomed though they were to the company of 
Jesus and to the most marvellous effects of His power ? " They 
feared as they entered into the cloud," because the cloud was the 
known and j)eculiar mark of Jehovah's presence. 

Here then, 1 think, it was no mere creature, but the Ci'cator 
Himself, who took the form of an angel. It may be too the 
Lord retreating, if one may so say, from all that would have 
linked Him manifestly and directly with His ])eople, and this 
for a very solemn reason. His people during the trumpets are 
supposed to have, only not wholly, lost their distinctive separa- 
tion and to ])('. sunk down into the world, so that God morally 
could not own in a public way His connexion with them. In 
Hebrews xi. it is said of certain believers that God was not 
ashamed to l)e called their CJod. Alas ! there are saints of wliom 
God inould be asiiamed to be called their CJod. It was not so 
witli the early patriarchs, with Abraliam, Isaac, and Jacob: God 


was their God. But He never calls Himself the God of Lot. 
This is a serious matter for thought, and our hearts ought to 
watcli against anything that could make Him ashamed to be 
called our God. It has been alluded to before, when we noticed 
that the Lord is never spoken of in this series as the Lamb, 
because the people of God will have got so much mixed up 
with unbelievers. When these judgments fall, the saints will 
be painfully merged in the world, so that much of the chastise- 
ment will come upon both. Eemember also that the Lord tells 
us the slips of His people that we may be warned by them. 
How sad to use the prophecy of unfaithfulness in order to 
justify it, and to attribute the effects of our unbelief to the 
providence of God ! 

At the time of the trumpets there is an ominous silence as to 
the people of God. There is just an allusion to their exemption 
from the torment of the apostates in chapter ix. 4; but this 
is the only distinct reference till the parenthesis of chapters x. 
and xi. If you apply the seals and trumpets to the past history 
of the world, the meaning is so plain' that most thoughtful 
Christians have agreed in the main. Constantine brought in 
Christianity by force of arms. The consequence of this was the 
great downfall of Paganism, with intimations of mercy by the 
by, and the seventh seal was followed by silence in heaven for 
about half an hour. No false expectation could be there. God. 
knew that, so far from the world being made really better by 
that astonishing change, all would end in the frightful con- 
sequences of grace abused, corrupted, and despised. The vast 
liody which had given up idolatry for the profession of Chris- 
tianity would ripen for judgment. The immediate result here 
is the cominw in of these trumpets. And what then ? God was 
ashamed of Christendom ; heaven was silent now, and yet we 
know joy is felt there over one sinner that repents. It was, 
externally at least, a swamp of forms ; and where was the Eock 
of salvation ? Alas ! He is once more lightly esteemed. 

Connected with this, I think, the Lord Jesus is no longer 
spoken of as the Son of man, much less as the Lamb : if seen 
here. He is in angelic guise. And as before (in order to distiu- 
guisli Him particularly from all otliers) He was engaged with the 


incense at the golden altar; so here we find He was "clothed 
with a cloud" — the badge of Jehovali's glory ; " and the rainbow 
[was] over his head," that is, the pledge of God's unchanging 
covenant with creation. " His face [was] as it were the sun." 
The sun is ever the symbol of supreme glory in rule, and the 
face of this angel is said to be like the sun. So it was on the 
holy mount (Matt. xvii. 2), and when John saw his Lord again 
at Patmos. (Rev. i. 16.) "His feet as pillars of fire" united, it 
would seem, the solidity of the "pillar" and the thorough final 
judgment that is so constantly conveyed by " fire." He plants 
the left on the sea, meaning the unformed masses of the outside 
world, and the right on the earth, i.e., that part of the world 
which is favoured with divine testimony and government. In 
other words, it is the Lord's universal claim over men, over the 
world. It is a public declaration of His right, not in respect 
of the church, but of the earth : not yet His actual investiture 
as Son of man, but a dealing of providential character, which 
involves a recommencing of testimony preparatoiy to His speedy 
assumption of universal dominion. 

But a further step has to be taken now. It is not, as in 
chapter v., God seated upon His throne with the sealed book 
in His right hand, and then the Lamb opening tlie book as the 
One who had prevailed to do so. And how prevailed ? Through 
death. It is not by creature -strength that the man of God 
conquers. The victories that will shine most and brightest are 
always those cast, so to speak, in the mould of the death of the 
Lord Jesus. In poor man's case it is life first and then death, 
because we are by nature dead in trespasses and sins ; but in 
that of .the Lord Jesus it is death first and then resurrection- 
life ; and such is the pattern for the Christian's faith to realize. 
Our whole life, as believers, should ilow according to the same 
cross that has wrought our salvation ; for the cross is God's 
power for us all the way through. (Gal. vi.) It is God who lias 
given us to suffer, and then comes power practically ; but this 
is, perhaps always, after there ha.s been more or less a realization 
of weakness and suffering. (2 Cor. xii. xiii. 4.) A man cannot 
win Christian victories until he is bare and low before God. He 
must 1)0 broken down in on(^ wav or another. And blessed it is 


if we are broken down in the presence of Christ ; for if it be 
not there, we must be broken down, if one may say so, in our 
own presence, and haply too in that of others. In chapter v., 
liowever, Christ opens the book that was unintelligible to all 
the mind of man, and He shews us from the seals certain 
judgments of God, so little removed from ordinary events in 
providence that we should scarce have known them to be judg- 
ments, save by that divine unveiling. But the Lamb unfolds 
all, and we find that God is at work to introduce the kingdom 
of the First-begotten, to put the Heir in actual possession of the 

In the chapter before us there is a difference. It is not a 
sealed book that we have, but an open one: and it is also em- 
phatically a little book. There is nothing mysterious about the 
matter. We come here to a notable change in the Revelation. 
Instead of its being, as hitherto, events that were the secret 
effects of God's unseen hand, there is a manifestation of His 
power and purpose with regard to His people. All becomes quite 
plain. We have no longer symbolical locusts, having a king (cf. 
Prov. XXX. 27), or strange and strangely numerous horses and 
horsemen, &c. It is now God's open, brief, and decisive actings. 
This I apprehend to be the difference between the two books. 
The first was in the hand of God and sealed, so that none could 
open it, save the blessed One who suffered all for the glor}^ of 
God. Here it is an open book, which the prophet takes from 
the angel's hand; and immediately we have no longer the more 
secret or enigmatical appearances of earlier visions, but the 
temple, the holy city, the Gentiles treading it under foot — all 
an obvious manifestation that God is acting on the Jews. We 
have before had the sealing a certain number out of the tribes 
of Israel, scattered, as I suppose, throughout the whole world. 
But here (chapter xi.) we come to a smaller scale, where God's 
dealings are concentrated on Jerusalem, the sanctuary, altar, 
worshippers, two witnesses, &c., and where they are also brought 
out so plainly that there need be no mistake as to what God 
means thereby. The beast as such also appears here in undis- 
guised and tremendous opposition against God and His servants. 
And evidently the Lord Jesus is shewing that the time approaches 


when He must take all into His own hands. This then is an 
open book, because all that it contains is perfectly plain ; and it 
is a very little book, because but a sliort time and a narrow 
compass are contemplated in it. 

" And he cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth, and 
when he had cried, the seven thunders uttered their own voices. 
And when the seven thunders had uttered [them], I was about 
to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying. Seal the things 
which the seven thunders uttered and write them not"* (ver. 3, 4). 
" Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey ? will a 
young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing ? . . . 
shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be 
afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done 
it ? Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his 
secret unto liis servants the prophets. The lion hath roared, who 
will not fear? The Lord God liath spoken, who can but pro- 
phesy?" (Amos iii.) I cannot but regard this passage of the 
Jewish prophet as in various elements ilhistrative of the vision 
we are examining. Again, thunder in the Old Testament was 
constantly the expression of God's authority in the way of judg- 
ment. We are summoned to hear this awful announcement of 
God's judgments. John was about to write, but a voice from 

* In the first clause of v. 4, the uncial MSS. N AB C P, the majority of cursives, 
and almost all the ancient versions, besides Greek and Latin fathers, omit tuq 
(pojvtiQ tavriov, and the renderinj^ would tht^n be, " And when the seven thunders 
hiid spokc'U," for P^n^lish hardly admits of the absolute "had uttered." I sup- 
jiose that the phrase was assimilated to the close of verse 3, wJicrcas the true form 
is corroborated by the latter clauses of verse 4. The difference in sense wonld 
bo that these thunders not only emitted their own proper sounds, but convej-ed 
something intelligible to the prophet. At the end of verso 4, /u>) nvra ypaxpyt; 
is supported by the overwhelming preponderance of manuscripts. The cojumon 
text has ravra with a few cursives, most of which, with the old Cappadocian 
commentator Andreas, read fitTa for n>i. This last, I presume, was the mere 
blunder of a scribe, who probably confounded a conti-aotion of the former with 
the latter, and this might be the more readily, inasmuch as fUTo. ravra (" after 
these things") is a frequent formula in Revelation. It is curious that this obviDUs 
mistake, yielding a sense totally different from, and nearly opposite to, the one 
intended, has been followed in more than one of the old foreign editions, begin- 
ning, if I mistake not, with the Complutensian, though the fact is not stated by 
Tregelles, &c. There arc also discrepancies as to the form of the last word, but 
there is the less reason to record them, as that which some authorities give is not 
even sense. 


heaven forbids it. He was not to communicate the details of 
what God was going to do now. But the angel " lifted up his 
right hand to heaven and sware by him that liveth for ever and 
ever, who created heaven .... that there should be no more 
space [or delay], but in the days of the voice of the seventh 
angel, when he should be about to sound, the mystery of God 
also should be finished, as he announced to his servants the 
prophets"* (verses 5-7). 

I apprehend that people often gather a vague if not wrong 
notion from those words, "there shall be time no lonaer." 
Many imagine that it means — there was then to be an end of 
time, and eternity was to begin. But this is not at all the sense, 
and the case shews the importance of seeking; light from God. 
The meaning is, that God would no longer allow time to run on 
before He interfered with the course of this world. It is not 
that eternity was at once to begin, but that there should be no 
longer any lapse of time before His last summons to the world 
and the introduction of a new dispensation, in which He will 

* The right readings here, I believe, are \p6vog ovketi iarai .... ku'i 
krikkadi). The former confirms the sense given in the text and evidently means 
that there shall be no longer space or delay, but in the days, &c. "The time 
shall not be yet" would require 6 Kaipog instead of xf^ovog, and ovTrui rather than 
ouKSTi, which, in constructions like the present, means " no more." Others take 
it as "a [mystical] time;" but this also in scripture is always Kaipog. The 
meaning which results from the latter very accurately falls in with the senti- 
ment, for orav fiiWy (TaXnii^fii' avoids the indefiniteness of the mere future, and 
intimates that, when the seventh angel should just sound, the mystery of God 
should also be finished, or literally "was finished," the Greek aorist being em- 
ployed to express the summariness of its completion — its coincidence, as it were, 
with that seventh blast. Bp. Middleton (and before him, it seems, Piscator and 
Vitringa) suggested a Hebraism as the source of this peculiar use of the aorist; 
for the Hebrew preterite very frequently stands for the future when that tense 
goes before and is joined by the conjunction. Indeed, as Gesenius remarks 
(Rodiger's ed., § 124, 6), the Pret. with Vau conversive relates to futurity, also 
when it is not preceded by a future tense, but by some other indication of futurity, 
and even where none such appears. This solution, if it be true here, confinns 
Kal iTsXhrrOtj. Here, again, rtXtaOrjfftTai would leave a vague future open, and 
another form is employed, which may appear harsh at first, but the propriety of 
which becomes apparent, the more the requirements of the passage are under- 
stood. TtXecrOy is good in sense, and fairly supported ; but it is easier than 
iTtXiffdr) and may have been the correction of a copyist. The converse appears 
to me improbable. 


deal ill an open manner with men on the earth. Since the 
rejection and ascension of the Lord Jesus, men — " His citizens" 
— have sent a message after Him, saying (at least in their 
hearts), " We will not have this man to reign over us." Such 
has been the voice of the world ever since He went into the far 
country. The real desire of man is to be rid of Christ ; and in 
general he thinks he is. And no wonder he dislikes to hear of 
His return in power and glory ; for the scriptures declare ex- 
pressly that Christ is to judge man, and man does not like to 
stand before his judge. Hence he puts off as long as possible 
the warning of Christ's advent to judge siu and sinners. The 
Lord intimates here that there is to be ere long a close put to 
the present delay. All the time that Christ is away at the right 
hand of God there is a suspense of judgment. But God feels 
deeply for His people, suffering as they must during the inter- 
val of Christ's rejection; and now He is not going to allow such 
a state of things to continue any longer, for there are the evident 
signs and tokens of the Lord's coming to deal with His enemies. 

Tlie iniglity angel swears that there should be no further 
delay (not before eternity, but) before the day of the Lord. The 
space or day spoken of here is man's day, and when this ends, 
the day of the Lord begins, which latter in scripture is never 
confounded with eternity, because that day has an end; whereas 
of course eternity never can terminate. Viewed from every 
side, the real force then is " that tliere should be no longer 
delay." And remark the words in the following verse: "But in 
the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he should be 
about to sound, the mystery of God shoukl be finished," &c. 
These words at once contradict the thought that eternity was to 
follow immediately. On the contrary, after this the whole of 
the millennium comes in ; after it a little season, and then 
eternity. Souls are sometimes hindered from entering into the 
truth of God by one little word, and so 1 believe it has been 
with this passage. Often when a slight obscurity is cleared up, 
heaps of difticulties disappear. 

God will put a stop to the present 'delay : "the mystery of 
God " will tlien be finished. Tiiis I take to mean the secret of 
His allowing Satan to have his own way, and man too (that is 


to say, the wonder of evil prospering and of good being trodden 
under foot) God checks, no doubt, the evil in a measure, partly 
through human government and partly through His own provi- 
dential dealings. And indeed it is an immense mercy that there 
are such restraints upon the evil of this world, for what would 
it be without them, when, even in the midst of God's providen- 
tial checks, wickedness is often so triumphant, and godliness 
thrown to the ground ? Still there is an influence for evil that 
no government can root out, and good that is belied and so has 
comparatively little influence. That is what seems so mysterious 
a thing to us, when we know God and how He hates evil. But 
it is soon coming to an end. God is about to touch all that is 
contrary to Himself, to bring all that has been promised from 
(jf old, and to 'Ave credit for all that has been done according 
to Himself And He is going to do this by His Son. The One 
whom man despised and rejected is the very person whom God 
will send to reduce all into holy order and beauty out of the 
existing mass of confusion. 

" The mystery of God " must not be confounded with the 
mystery of His will in Eph. i. 9. This last is what has been 
always near to His heart, for it involves the glory not of the 
church onlv but of Christ. It is " according to His good 
pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself" There was no 
one that suggested it. It was His own will. And what is the 
mystery of His will ? " That in the dispensation of tlie fulness 
of times He might gather together in one all tilings in Christ, 
both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in 
Him." All these things • that Satan has scattered now will be 
reunited in one under Christ. Mercy and truth will tlieu meet 
together, righteousness and peace kiss each other. This is true 
even now for the believer, as far as his own reconciliation to 
God is concerned. Satan may challenge you: — How can it be 
had in the presence of so much evil within ? No wonder that 
this cuts right into the conscience of the man that doubts God, 
and even of the one that believes Him, if he is looking at 
himself. When occupied with myself these doubts may well 
arise, but not if I am looking only to Christ. He alone is entitled 
to give me rest before God. It is Christ alone who can dissipate 


tlie waves and the winds. Satan has set man against God in 
every way, even against goodness coming down from Him ; but 
God is not going to allow evil to pass a certain limit. Though 
Satan's opposition is allowed to frustrate God's plans for the 
present, yet every one of the ways in which He has been at 
work in the earth from the first is destined to triumph and to 
triumph together in the end. (Hosea ii. 21, 23.) There was a 
man set up in Adam ; there was government put into the hands 
of Noah; there was God's calling given to Abraham; there 
was the long and patient test of the law ; finally, there was 
the mission of His Sou and of His Spirit. All these things, so 
to speak, have been streams from God flowing through this 
earth. They have been refused or corrupted by man from the 
first, and through the enemy's power men will abuse these very 
dealings of God to bring in the most daring and deadly con- 
spiracy that the world has ever seen — Satan and man combined 
against God, who will allow all this evil to come out, and will 
then put an end to it by judgment. This is the finishing of 
the mystery. 

But that which is called " the mystery of His will " is not 
the subject of prophecy. Christ will be the Head of all bless- 
ing and He will gather all things in united blessing under His 
own headship — all that Satan had contrived to spoil. What 
God made originally was merely in a condition of innocence ; 
but what the Lord Jesus will accomplish in the end, the 
reconciliation of all things, will be beyond Satan's power to 
touch. All will be gathered together in one, even in Christ 
their chief. And another thing it is well to state. In this 
mystery of God's will we are not merely to be blessed under 
Christ, but in order to get the full character of the blessing, 
we are blessed with Him. And this is what we have here in 
I'^jhesians : not that we will be a sort of inlieritance for Christ, 
but we are j'oint-heirs with Him. In that great mystery of God 
in Christ, there are two thoughts — Christ's universal headship, 
and the church's union to Ilim. There is no such thing as our 
l>cing united under Christ's power; but all things that ever 
have been made are to be united under His headship ; and, 
wonderful thought ! the church is to share all that glory along 


with Him. It is not what belongs to Christ as a divine person, 
but what He takes as the reward of redemption. And this very 
work gives Him a title to bestow it on whom God will. The 
church is united as the body and bride of Him who is the Lord 
of all. She is the Eve of the Second Adam. In Ephesians v. St, 
Paul takes up more particularly the latter part of the subject. 
Christ is to present it to Himself a glorious church, not having 
spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. The great mystery brought 
out there is the nearness, the love, the intimacy of bridal 
relationship between Christ and the church. 

In the Epistle to the Colossians you have the same thing 
referred to (chapter ii. 2) : " To the acknowledgment of the 
mystery of God [and of the Father, and of Christ]." These 
last words seem inserted without adequate authority, and when 
persons try to mend scripture, they only damage it. There is 
a certain great mystery spoken of in Colossians i. (verse 26.) 
The meaning of the word mystery is a secret. It may not be 
a secret now, but it means a thing that was a secret. Where 
there is anything that people cannot understand, they are apt 
to designate it a mystery. But in scripture it means a ti'uth 
that God kept hid, but that is so no longer — something which 
they did not know as men or Jews, but that Christ was to 
teach them as Christians. There is another statement about it 
in the next verse : " To whom God would make known what 
is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, 
which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." 

As to the predictions of Christ in the Old Testament, it is a 
mistake to call this or the fact itself a mystery : enough was 
quite plain. What the Jewish prophets proclaimed was a Messiah 
coming who would reign over them, and who would unite sal- 
vation with being " the great King." What they did not under- 
stand, though revealed, was His humiliation and death. They 
stumbled over Him. Again " the mystery " is a term never ap- 
plied to Christ's death and resurrection. This was not a secret 
at all, but on the contrary is very plainly predicted in Isaiah 
liii.. Psalms xvi. xxii. Ixix. cvi., and many other passages. 

But it was a mystery that, when Christ was rejected by His 
people, and during the time of His exaltation in heaven, God 



would make Him to be the Head of a heavenly body, chosen 
by His grace out of all — Jews or Gentiles. This was not 
treated of in the Old Testament. There were certain things 
that we can now shew to be types of it, but they never 
would have yielded the least light upon it, if the mystery had 
not been brought out. There was no such thing then, nor even 
any such predicted, as Jew and Gentile being blessed together 
in one body ; and this is the reason why it is called " the 
mystery hidden from ages and from generations." It was a 
secret hid in God that tlie prophets did not touch upon. When 
the Jews have their Messiah, it will not be as the hope of glory, 
but as the One who Himself brings in the glory. When the 
time comes for the blessing they are looking for, there will be 
no doubt about it, for all will be manifested, whether for friends 
or foes ; neither will it be a hope, but the actual accomplishment 
of glory in their midst. But now there is an extraordinary 
state of things that God is effecting among the Gentiles while 
the Jews are cast off. The Gentiles have Christ now, not as 
bringing in glory visibly on the earth, as it will be among the 
Jews by and by, but they have Him in them the hope of glory 
by and by, and in heaven. 

The term "mystery of God" may be used in our chapter, 
because it was specially during the time of God's non-interven- 
tion with the world that He had been working out the won- 
derful secret of Christ and the church. Now this was done with. 
Still the mystery of evil being permitted to prosper goes on for 
a time longer — that passiveness of God, whereby He does not 
hinder evil from having the upper hand, and good from being 
trampled down. It should soon close, as He declared the 
glad tidings to His servants the pro[)]iets. The voice speak.s 
aoain and says, " Go take the little book which is open in the 
hand of the angel," &c. (verse 8.) Accordingly John takes the 
book, and finds it, when he has eaten, in his mouth sweet as 
honey ; but when he ponders its contents, and digests its results, 
liow bitter within ! So it is and will be. When we see how 
God will accomplish all, it must be pain to think what is re- 
served for man, as indeed it is to know how perseveringly he 
rebels against God, and forsakes his own mercies. 


The Lord grant that what has been of God for the clearing of 
our standing from earthly principles, and awakening a just feel- 
ing of the exceeding dignity of the place in which God has put 
us, may be impressed upon our hearts ! None are in so respon- 
sible a place as those who are occupied with heavenly things. 
And let us not suppose that position, or even truth, will of 
itself keep a soul : nothing but the Spirit of God can ; and He 
never will, where there is not dependence and self-judgment. 
He is come to glorify Christ. The Lord grant that we may watch 
and pray ! For while the truth is calculated to separate from the 
world, yet where it is abused and degenerates into that knowledge 
which puffs up, one is prepared for the worst results. 

It remains to add a few words as usual on the past measure of 
accomplishment which this parenthetical vision has received. I 
am not disposed to question its general application to that won- 
derful divine intervention, the Eeformation. The Eastern empire 
had for some time succumbed to the furious onset of the Turks ; 
the West was not a whit less steeped and impenitent than before 
in abominable idolatry and imposture, when that sudden light 
from on high shone upon astonished Europe. Not that the 
grace of Christ was deeply realized, or reflected in the Reforma- 
tion. The testimony of its leading spirit, Luther, expressed itself 
in a way more akin to the lightnings and thunders of Sinai, and 
savoured too often of earth rather than of heaven. In fact it 
is this comparative earthliness of character, which enables the 
Historicalists to find so many apparent coincidences between 
that great work and the vision before us. It is just because 
Luther so much approximated, not to St. Paul's line of minis- 
try, but to the prophetic testimony of Jesus which is yet to be 
borne by the latter-day witnesses, that there seems so much in 
common between the tenor of his life and the tendency of his 
labours, and the predictions of what they are to teach and do 
and suffer by and by. The idea of comparing it with the 
original sending out of the gospel and formation of the church 
at Pentecost is, I cannot but feel, a gross misconception. 

Besides, is it true that there is not a particular in the vision 
to which the Reformation does not exactly answer ? Does the 
blaze of the Sun of righteousness intimate the republication of 

p 2 


His gospel ? I do not doubt that the full meaning of the vision 
involves a public testiuioiiy to the coming of " the day;" but 
for this reason the gospel is excluded, as any spiritual person 
may see who dispassionately weighs Mai. iv. For the essence 
of the gospel is that therein God justifies the ungodly and saves 
the lost ; whereas it is " unto you [the godly remnant of the 
Jews] that the Sun of righteousness arises with healing in his 
wings ; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall. 
And ye shall tread down the wicked ; for they shall be ashes 
under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith 
Jehovah of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant." 
There may be a measure of resemblance between this and the 
aims and course (though not the issue) of the more warlike 
Reformers ; but in that very proportion it is the reverse of the 
gospel, or of the practical conduct which flows from and is suit- 
able to it. 

Again the cloud recalls the deliverance of Israel, as the rain- 
bow does the covenant with the earth, when government was 
instituted ; the pillars of fire represent judicial firmness, and 
the loud liun-like voice is tlie terror-striking assertion of His 
rights, preceded by the significant claim laid to the whole world, 
and followed by the complete utterance of God's power. These 
with the little open book (which appears to mean known prophecy 
relative to tlie city and temple) are all of them features entirely 
agreeing with the approaching resumption of the Lord's relations 
with Jerusalem and the Jews, and the world in general, but not 
one of them, as it seems to me, in its full import like the gospel 
of God's grace. Heaven and the church are entirely unseen : 
it is a question of an earthly people, and hence of kings and 
nations ; it is the recommencement, not of evangelising, much 
less of edifying the body of Christ, but of the prophetic testi- 
mony here below. The decree is declared. Jehovah's anointed 
King is about to take Zion, His liill of holiness, nay, the nations 
for His inheritance, and tlie uttermost parts of the earth for His 
possession, lie is no longer to ask tlie Father for the heavenly 
sons, but for the world itself — no longer to set apart by the truth 
for association with Himself above, but to reduce people with a 
rod of iron, and to dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. 


" Be wise now, therefore, ye kings : be instructed, ye judges 
of the earth." Such is the obvious connexion of the scene 
before us. In view of this, it is a preliminary interference. 
Had the Reformers understood the high calling of the saints, or 
the nature, character, and consequences of our union with Christ 
in heavenly places, there would have been a contrast, not an 
analogy. In truth it was (I repeat) the effect of their lack of 
spiritual intelligence as Christians, and their approximation to 
godly Jews, which imprinted on their movement whatever 
assimilation there is to the scene we are reviewing. 

Further, the attempt to make it the complete answer involves 
at least the ordinary amount of strain, and I might almost add 
of the absurd. For, in his haste to apply the principle of allusive 
reference, as it has been called, the author of the Horae Apoc. 
does not even glance at the connexion of the seven thunders 
with Christ. It was too good an opportunity to lose for an 
allusion to the thunders of the Vatican. But here, strange to 
say, and in opposition as it appears to me to the very principle 
invoked, Mr. Elliott wrests these thunders from Him who is the 
primary figure in the vision, and applies them exclusively to 
the Pope ! The reasoning that is offered in support of the 
proposition, so monstrous to any mind not under the over- 
whelming bias of a system, appears to me wholly groundless, 
though not unworthy of Mr. E.'s well-known ingenuity. 1. The 
vocality of the thunders is not altogether unprecedented in this 
book (chap. vi. 1), and besides, the trumpets are said to have 
the same (chap. viii. 13). Compare also Rev. xvi. 7 for the 
altar. The supposed parallel in John xii. 28 is certainly not in 
favour of papal oracles. 2. The reflective pronoun no doubt 
implies that the voices were their own, the sounds proper to the 
thunders spoken of; but that they were in opposition to the 
angel's crying as with lion's roar is the most unnatural of 
inferences. Whatever may be thought of the theory of an 
allusion to Leo X., even so the analogy of every other vision is 
in favour of the thought that the direct reference is the full 
expression of divine power, as God's seal upon the angel's asser- 
tion of title. 3. It seems to me almost awful to lay it down 
that the proposition, " write them not," implies that the voices 


were " not the true sayings of God, but instead thereof false and 
an imposture" {H. A., vol. ii. p. 105.) The real reason is very 
simple. The general fact, that "the voice of Jehovah" echoes 
the claims of Christ to the possession of the world is given ; 
the details are not to be written. The apostle Paul was caught 
up into paradise and heard secrets (apprjTa pT/jfiara) which it is not 
allowed for man to utter. The prophet John was about to write 
what the thunders divulged, but the voice from heaven com- 
mands the things to be sealed, not written — a mode of dealing 
most extraordinary, if the utterances are supposed to be the 
false decrees of Eome, but well harmonizing with the conclusion 
that other things were yet to be revealed, before the power of 
God was enforced and the earthly rights of Christ are made 
good by judgment. 4. Hence, I utterly reject, as a mere 
corollary of the last error, the idea of reference here to the seven 
hills of Eome. Hitherto the septenary usage of the Eevelation 
has been entirely independent of that local sign, which occurs 
only in chap, xvii., where the context proves that Eome is in 
question. Here, for the same reason of the connexion, the Eoman 
hills are an intrusion, while the idea of completeness is the 
natural sense. 5. This also accounts for the prefixed article, 
as in the case of the seven angels (chap, viii.), who, I presume, 
have no special connexion with that city. As to the opinion 
that there is nothing but the Papal bulls to which the seven 
Apocalyptic thunders have been made to answer, it is natural in 
the quarter whence it flows ; but when the writer adds " or can 
he" he passes, 1 humbly think, beyond the bounds of wisdom 
or modesty. None of us is the measure of divine knowledge 
nor of what the Lord may bestow. Further, I for one confess 
my inability to discern, even with the special pleading of the 
Horae, the peculiar suitability of the angel's oath to the pre- 
valent convictions of the Eeforming i'atlu;rs or their Protestant 
children. Savonarola and others before him seem to have been 
rather more full of the nearness of Christ's kingdom than 
Luther and his coadjutors. What tlie great German expected 
was ratlier the destruction of the J*ope's kingdom by the wo^'d 
alone, and this founded on his construction of Daniel quite as 
much as St. Paul ; i.e. it seems to me, in contrast with the open 

THE angel's oath REFERS TO THE FUTURE. 215 

book and the angel's most soleran announcement. Nor did 
Melancthon improve on Luther, when he assigned Dan. vii. to 
Mohammedanism and Dan. viii. to the Papacy. Neither can I 
admit that prophesying, as addressed to John, and predicated of 
the two witnesses, or indeed ever, is the mere function of ex- 
pounding the scriptures and exhorting from them, as fulfilled in 
every faithful gospel minister. The notion, too, that in the 
words, " Go take the little book," and " thou must prophesy 
again," we are to read (not now of course, an allusive reference, 
but) a sort of prefiguration of the deacon's ordination to preach 
the gospel or Christian ministry, and of the taking in hand the 
New Testament to translate it into the vernacular tongue ; and 
yet more, that St. John's being made representative of the 
faithful ministers of the Eeformation at this epoch intimates 
that they were all in the line of evangelical succession, is to 
me more like playing with feelings than a grave exposition of 
this chapter. It is the attempt to apply the details to the past, 
which betrays the unsatisfactoriness of the exclusive Protestant 
scheme : a bearing on it, definite enough to shew that such a 
work as the Eeformation was not overlooked of God, in the 
protracted application of the book, I have already admitted. 
The full literal carrying out of every word awaits the end of 
the age. 



From the inonient tliat God begins to deal with the eartli in an 
open manner, Israel naturally comes forward and also the Gen- 
tiles as connected with them. (Deut. xxxii. 8, 9.) We have had 
the twelve tribes scattered abroad and a measured number sealed; 
but the land of Judea and Jerusalem is the great foreground of 
the picture that we see here. " Else/' it is said to the prophet, 
" and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that 
worship therein." The altar, I think, clearly refers to the brazen 
altar ; for the golden altar was mcluded in the temple. " They 
that worship therein" are persons who are characterized by 
nearness to God. The altar was the expression of true approach 
to God, and they have drawn near Him. It was the place of 
tlie burnt-offering which marked the acceptance of the person. 
Now this shews us tliat here we have God owning a certain 
number of people on the earth as capable of drawing near to 
Him. " Measure the temple," &c., meant, I suppose, that God 
appropriated thus far Himself (verse 1).* 

* The received text gives /cai o iiyytXog I'laTiiKH, the Complutensiiin, fullow- 
ing several MSS., has the same words, thus — kui ekxt. 6 dyy. Erasmus and R. 
St(Ji)heii8 had more rightly left them out, as do the Alexandrian -IMS., more 
than thirty cursives, and all the ancient versions, save the Arm. and Syr., which 
in the Apocal ypHc are not seldom encumbered with glosses. The present addition 
was probably drawn from Zechariah iii. 3 through the scholiast Andreas. The 
elliptical construction perplexed people, and disposed them to ado])t some such 
interpolation. Beza was the first, after the Complutcnsian editors, who sanc- 
tioni^d the clause in the common printed copies ; and this to avoid the absurdity 
of the reed's seeming to speak. But there is no necessity, as ho himself admits, 
for Ruch a meaning, if we do adhere to the best authorities. At the same time 
it is a mistake to say that the words are wanting in all the most ancient Greek 
MSS. ; for N A P omit and B has them, while C being deficient cannot therefore 
be cited. 

NOT KOME, 217 

" And the court which is without the temple leave out, and 
measure it not ; for it is given unto the Gentiles ; and the holy 
city shall they tread under foot forty and two months " (ver. 2). 
The Jew is owned to a certain extent by God; and consequently 
their city is spoken of as the holy city, and the Gentiles as 
those who were defiling and treading it under foot. But it is 
important, before we go any farther, to enquire whether there is 
any reference in other scriptures to this same period, spoken of 
here as forty and two months. It will not be doubted that the 
prophecy of Daniel is the book which most nearly answers in 
the Old Testament to the Apocalypse in the New. We find there 
a period mentioned of three years and a half, called in mystical 
language " a time, times, and a half" Let us turn to Daniel vii. 
There we find the Gentile powers represented as wild beasts, 
having in part some resemblances in nature. There was a winged 
lion and a bear; and the leopard was presented as a four-winged 
witness to the swiftness of conquest men would see in the power 
represented by that beast. Every one knows there never was 
an empire in antiquity like the Macedonian under Alexander 
for spreading itself by rapid conquest ; and not only this, but it 
had its roots deep, so that even to this day the remains of the 
Grecian empire are seen ; and these, not exhumed as it were, 
but in living effects. The fourth beast was of a composite cha- 
racter, unlike anything that had been before. Upon its head 
were ten horns, and after them in their midst another little 
horn was seen by the prophet to emerge. This last takes the 
place of three others, and becomes the great object with which 
the Spirit of God is occupied, not of course because of anything 
good connected with it, but because of its deadly hostility to 
God and His people. Daniel looks at him more particularly in 
his political, and the Eevelation in his politico-religious charac- 
ter. It is with this fourth Gentile empire, the Eoman beast, 
and in relation to the Jews, that the period is given. 

It does seem no slight hallucination of mind to divert these 
scriptures from Judea, and to transport Eome into them. But 
the cause is apparent. Men had been so occupied with the 
controversies between Protestantism and Popery, that they 
naturally looked through the scriptures to find something about 


the pope ; and finding there was one person more wicked llian 
any other (the antichrist), they came to the conclusion tliat the 
antichrist and the pope were the same thing. Now, it is true 
that they both do similar things to a certain extent ; but when 
you look into the scriptures, antichrist finds his place in Judea, 
and in connexion with the Jewish people, in a way the pope has 
never done. I do not say the pope may not do so ; but it is im- 
possible yet to apply fully and exclusively what is said about 
the antichrist to the pope as such. There is a future system of 
lawlessness, and a future person at its head, who will rise up 
against Christ in His Jewish rights and glory, uniting political 
power with religious pretension, and this in the city of the great 
King. There are many antichrists, it is true, and the pope may 
truthfully be regarded as one of them ; but not as the antichrist 
who is to come. That is reserved for the time immediately pre- 
ceding Christ's appearing from heaven. He will personally affect 
and oppose the Lord Jesus, and will by Him personally be put 
down. People ought to be prepared for this ; but they, on the 
contrary, imagine that Popery is the last antichrist, and that it 
is getting so decrepid as to be well-nigh sinking into its grave. 
But the Bible is clear that the most hateful development of law- 
lessness is yet to come ; and that when it arrives it will carry 
away, not Popish countries only, but Protestant ones, and the 
Jews themselves, in its fatal delusions. 

In Daniel vii. the little horn is said to speak great words 
against the Most High, "and shall wear out the saints of the 
Most High, and think to change times and laws ; and they 
shall be given into his hands, until a time, and times, and the 
dividing of time." Now it appears to me perfectly certain that 
the "times and laws" in question here are those the prophet 
Daniel was familiar with. These " times" had to do with Israel's 
festivals, and the "laws" with the Jewish polity or ritual. The 
saints of the Most High were those whom the prophist knew and 
was interested in; just as in chapter xii. "the children of thy 
people" {i.e., Daniel's people) are intended. This shews that a 
special enemy of God's people in Judea who will arise in that 
day is here spoken of. He meddles with tlie Jews when they 
have begun to be owned in a measure by God. This iniquitous 


power wears out the saints of the high places, and thinks to 
change times and laws ; and they shall be given into his hand. 
Not that the saints should be so given, for God never relinquishes 
them to the enemy : He may permit saints to be worried for a 
while, but He never gives them up. It is the times and laws 
that are thus given for a season, because the nation is not owned 
thoroughly till the Messiah comes. As yet it is only a partial 
recognition of their worship. These are then to be abandoned 
to liim "for a time, and times, and the dividing of time." You 
have this same period referred to in the forty-two months, which 
is exactly the same length of time, taking "a time'' as meaning 
a year. 

In Daniel, chapter ix., you have another note of time, the 
famous seventy weeks (verse 26). " And after threescore and two 
(or rather, after the threescore, in addition to the previous seven) 
weeks shall Messiah be cut off and (margin) shall have nothing ; " 
i.e., after sixty-nine of the seventy weeks Messiah is cut off. 
Then an interruption follows on account of this ; all the weeks 
do not expire. There remains one, the last, to be fulfilled, which 
is kept separate, lilce a link wrenched off from the preceding 
chain. You will observe that, after the death of Messiah the 
Prince, another prince is alluded to as yet to come ; and he is 
evidently an antagonistic prince, a prince of the Eoman people. 
The grave mistake is made by many, that this prince was Titus, 
who came and took the city of Jerusalem ; but it is not so. 
The verse does not state that the prince should destroy, &c. ; 
but " the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy 
the city and sanctuary ;" and so they did. The Eomans came 
under that general. But when we are told of " the people 
of the prince that shall come," it is a plain intimation to ray 
mind that there was a certain great ruler to follow — a prince 
connected with the lioman empire. His people were to come 
first, which they did under Titus ; afterwards the prince comes 
himself, which I believe to be still future. For mark well, that 
the past destruction of the city and sanctuary is not included in 
the course of the seventy weeks at all. It is after the sixty-ninth, 
and before the seventieth begins. There was a chain, so to speak, 
of sixty-nine weeks of years up to the death of Christ ; then it 


was broken. There was an important link, the seventieth week, 
remaining. What becomes of it ? The last verse takes it up, and 
is clear enough that this seventieth week has to do (not with 
Christ but) with His enemy who is to have a manifest connexion 
with the Eoman people, and also with the Jews. Observe that, 
in the twenty-sixth verse, after the threescore and two weeks iu 
addition to the seven, when the Messiah is cut off, there is no 
mention of the weeks. In what comes after, we have no date, 
till we enter upon verse 27; shewing that what intervenes is not 
counted as a part of the continuous line of the weeks. " The end 
thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end thereof desola- 
tions are determined." The city and sanctuary were destroyed 
long since, but the desolations are "unto the end;" and they 
still go on. 

Till lately, of all people of the earth a Jew had the greatest 
difficulty to get into the land. There is a change coming over 
the spirit of the nations towards Israel, I admit. Some of the 
Gentiles seem to forget that the Jew is under a peculiar judg- 
ment of God. This is no excuse for dealing harshly, of course, 
but it is a grave reason why men should not meddle with them 
politically. For the Jew to be so mixed up with the Gentiles is 
a sort of apostacy, and for the Gentile it is to despise God's 
judgment and eventually to incur it. It will be found that God 
cannot be with such an union. When the Gentiles liave given 
up every thought of divine election of the Jew, I believe that 
the hand of God will confound their schemes, and that He will 
interfere to bring out His people distinctly and separately from 
all others, first for judgment and then for blessing. When all 
seems to be quiet and prospering, God will spoil what man 
thinks he is doing; for He has not finally cast off Israel. The 
Jew may have given up God and have amalgamated with the 
Gentile ; but God will never forget that He chose the fathers 
and made promises as to the children. True, the Jews undertook 
to be His people and miserably failed in fulfilling their obliga- 
tions ; but God will not fail to accomplish His purpose. When 
the Gentile mariners had got Jonah in their-ship, God was de- 
termined to have him out. If they did not cast him forth into 
the sea, God would break their ship to get His prophet out so as 


to be with Himself and His work. So it will be in the day that 
speedily approaches. 

From Isaiah xviii. we find that there is to be a partial restora- 
tion of Israel by Gentile power, chiefly through the influence of a 
certain maritime power " that sendeth ambassadors by the sea." 
They may bring some of the Jews back to their own land, 
but tlie Jews will still be rebellious and unbelieving. All seems 
to flourish, but suddenly there comes a blight from God. Quite 
unexpectedly He allows the ancient enmity to break out among 
the Gentiles against tlie Jews. " The fowls," as it is said, " shall 
summer upon them ; and all the beasts of the earth shall 
winter upon them." Every kind of unrelenting hatred is shewn 
once more. They are the dead body ; and where the carcase 
is, there will the eagles be gathered together. The Gentiles who 
seemed to be so kind will again stand aloof from them, and as 
of old unite for the purpose of crushing them. And what will 
be the end ? The Gentiles having relapsed into their old hatred 
against Israel, God will espouse the cause of His people. He re- 
frains while man is meddling ; but when an immense host comes 
up against them, in that very day " shall the present be brought 
unto Jehovah of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and 
from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto." God, as 
I understand the prophet to say, will bring a present to Himself 
of His long-scattered and persecuted Israel. 

This will shew how naturally in the IJevelation we have a 
reorganization of the Jewish polity and worship, after the church 
has been caught up to heaven and before the appearing of Christ. 
We see a little remnant in the midst of the mass which were to 
be given over to the Gentiles. For forty-two months the holy 
city is to be trodden under foot. The Lord allows a certain 
period to go on as far as the many were concerned, but He 
measures the temple, and the altar, and them that worship 
therein for Himself. This remnant might be killed, but He 
values them. When some of the Jews are thus in their own 
land, but Israel as a whole is not yet thoroughly brought in by 
God, the predicted Roman prince will come, who will " confirm 
a [not the] covenant with [the] many for one week." I am 
aware that some apply this to Christ. But the Lord never 


made a covenant for a week or for seven years. It is impossible 
rightly to refer the words to any covenant the Lord ever made, 
much less to a covenant njade since His death. " The everlasting 
covenant" is obviously tlie contrast, and not the accomplish- 
ment, of a covenant made for a week. Many apply it thus; but 
those who so interpret Dan. ix. 27 have forgotten that Christ 
had been looked at as " cut off " in the previous verse. 

" In the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the 
oblation to cease ; and for the overspreading of abominations lie 
shall make it desolate," &c. Here we have subsequent events 
of a totally different nature. How and when, it will be asked, 
are we to suppose this arrest of sacrifice and oblation ? AVlio 
and whence is the personage who causes them to cease ? 
Messiah, the Prince, and "the prince that shall come" — are they 
the same person, or different individuals ? The history ends as 
to the Messiah with verse 26. "The people" of that coming 
prince were the enemies of Israel, subject to an opposed power, 
and not Messiah's people. In verse 27 the prince, whose 
coming was announced in verse 26, is himself come ; and he it 
is who confirms a covenant with the "many," or mass of the 
Jews, for one week ; but in the midst of the week he shall 
cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the over- 
spreading of abominations, &c. The language may be some- 
what obscure, but at least it is quite plain that there is to be a 
certain prince after the death of Christ, — a lloman prince — 
whose people first come for a desolation l(.)ng accomplished, and 
at length he comes. After that he appears upon the stage, the 
last week of Daniel begins. This interruption between the 
si.xty-ninth and seventieth weeks may seem strange, and people 
may ask. How can there be such a gap ? But it is not witliout 
precedent. The same thing in principle occurs in Luke iv., 
when the Lord was reading in Isaiah. The portion read was 
the description of His own ministry in Isa. Ixi. 1, 2: "The 

Spirit of the Lord is upon me He hath sent me to heal 

the broken-hearted to preach the acceptable year of Je- 
hovah. . . . And he closed the book." He did not finish the 
sentence. Why ? Because, if one may reverentially answer, the 
prophecy went on with "the day of vengeance of our God." 


Proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord was what Christ 
did at His first coming, but it was not then the day of Jeho- 
vah's vengeance ; so that the whole of Christianity and the 
calling of the Church came in between the acceptable year of 
Jehovah and the day of vengeance. When Christ came in 
humiliation and love, it was the acceptable year of Jehovah, 
and therefore He closed tlie book ; but the day of vengeance is 
deferred till tJie Lord comes again in glory. 

So here in Daniel, the sixty-nine weeks run on till Messiah 
is cut off, and then we have an evident gap. The destruction 
of Jerusalem is not included in the course of the sixty-nine 
weeks, and as evidently does not take place in the seventieth 
week. For if you iuter})ret the last week as commencing from 
the death of the Messiah, this would only give seven years, 
whereas Jerusalem was not taken till forty years after the death 
of Christ.* The seventieth week had nothing to say to that 
siege, and in point of fact the wars and desolations were given 
before we arrive at the seventieth week, which is not named till 
the last verse. 

In tlie last or 27th verse a covenant is made. Did Titus, did 
any Eoman prince, make a covenant with the Jews for one week ? 
And further it is said, " In the midst of the week he shall cause 
the sacrifice and the oblation to cease." This shews that there 
is to be a renewal of religious service by the Jews at Jerusalem 
in the latter day. Sacrifice and oblation will have been restored ; 
and this prince, in spite of the covenant made with them, puts 
an end to all. And what then? Abominations, which means 

* If, with Ussher, the death of Christ he put in the midst of the seventieth 
week, it appears to me that the confusion is only increased. For, in all fairness 
of interpretation, the last week does not hegin to be accomplished until the city 
and the sanctuary have been destroyed by the Romans, not to speak of a course 
of subsequent desolation. So that the Ussherian view of verse 27 really puts 
the death of Christ at least three and a half years after the destruction of 
Jerusalem, if the latter part of verse 26 is duly considered. The truth is, the 
right understanding of the prophecy itself leaves room for, and supposes, a gap 
of undefined length after the Messiah is cut off, before the last week commences. 
It is certain that the Eoman invasion and the Jewish sorrows that follow, 
exclusive of the closing dealings of the coming prince, are not in the sixty-nine 
weeks any more than in the seventieth. The text itself therefore proves this 
lonor interval. 


idolatry, are publicly set up and protected. They are to be 
brought into the sanctuary itself, which was not the case at the 
past destruction of Jerusalem. Then there was much appalling 
wickedness — every other kind of crime and madness, but no 
idolatry. Here, on the contrary, there is supposed to be the open 
support of idolatry in the temple. This does not answer to the 
capture by Titus, nor to the death of the Lord Jesus Christ ; for 
at that time the unclean spirit of idolatry had departed out of 
the nation, which from the time of the Babylonish captivity, 
excepting the defilement of Antiochus, had kept clear of such 
abominations, and in that sense was "empty, swept, and gar- 
nished." But we know that unclean spirit is to return in greater 
force than ever. (Matt. xii. 45.) Christendom and Judaism will 
each contribute to the last form of evil — antichristianism. You 
may remember that the Pharisees charged the Lord, when He 
was upon earth, with doing His miracles by Satanic power, and 
the meaning of the parable then given to them is really the 
history of Israel itself. The old unclean spirit had gone away. 
The people or their leaders were full of zeal for their ordinances. 
But what does the Lord say ? That the old and long-departed 
unclean spirit was to return. And when it does, it will bring 
with it seven other spii'its worse than itself The Jews are to 
iall into idolatry, in union with antichristianism, and their last 
state will be worse than the first. (Compare also Isa. Ixv. Ixvi.) 

But let us now go back to the lievelation. There is this state 
of things in Israel — a measure of recognition on God's part, and 
worship going on, though the outward profession is given over 
to Gentile oppression. And remark, that the Lord says, " I will 
<yive [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a 
thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sack- 
cloth" (verse 3). The Lord mentions them as so many days 
here, rather than as forty-two months, it would seem, to mark 
His value for their testimony. He makes, so to speak, as much 
of it as He can. He does not sum it together, as when speaking 
of the beast (chapter xiii. 5). Lovingly he speaks of the time 
as days, as though He were counting them all out. " They shall 
testify a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed 
in sackcloth" — a testimony borne in sorrow. It is not Chris- 


tiauity, nor is it the state of things that will subsist after Messiah 
has appeared in glory. But it is the time of transition after the 
church has been taken away, and before it comes out of heaven 
with the Lord Jesus — the time when man will have brought in 
God's people to their land, at least the mass of them thoroughly 
unht to be in relation with God. There is a little remnant of 
believing ones, there is worship, and besides a prophetic testi- 
mony, but evidently Jewish in its character. In Zechariah, 
though there are two olive-trees mentioned, there is only one 
candlestick ; here there are two, because they are the two wit- 
nesses who prophesy of the coming earthly glory, but who do 
not bring it in personally. That is to say, it is not the regular 
order of God, but a proof that His eye is upon His people for 
good before full blessing comes. 

"And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their 
mouth, and devoureth their enemies : and if any man will hurt 
them, he must in this manner be killed" (verse 5). This shews 
that it was not proper Christian testimony, nor the corresponding 
practical fruits. It was the very thing the Son would not do 
when He was upon earth (save, of course, in the figurative sense 
of Luke xii. 49), and that He rebuked James and John for de- 
siring. (Luke ix. 54, 55.) Here, on the contrary, fire proceeds 
out of their mouth, and devours their enemies — a perfectly right 
thing when God is about to take the place of Judge on earth. 
But the Lord does not take that place now. He is saving sinners, 
and otherwise displaying full grace ; and as long as He so acts. 
He does not desire His people to be the depositaries of earthly 
power. Thus, the miracles of His servants, during this time of 
the display of His grace, have not been of a destroying nature. 
The Lord might deal with a person now because of some sin, as 
with the Corinthian saints : I do not see why He should not at 
any time. But it would be foreign to Christianity and contrary 
to all that it breathes, if a saint, because another was evilly 
opposed to him, wished his death or injury. Christianity shews 
that the victory grace gives us is to shew love and kindness to 
one's enemy. It may be heaping coals of fire upon his head; 
but such is the Lord's way — overcoming evil with good. Yet it 
is the Lord who here sanctions the destructive power which 


accompanies the testimony of His Jewish witnesses ; for He 
says, " I will give [power] to ray two witnesses .... And if any 
man will hurt them, he must in tliis manner be killed." It is 
what He means them to do — what evidently is to be done ac- 
cording to the thought of God. It indicates another condition, 
and not the Christian called to suffer unresistingly. It is the 
close of the age when Christianity will have done its work, and 
the Lord will again begin to act on the Jews. 

Besides, their ministry and miracles have the same character 
as that which is attached to those of Moses and Elias. Thus 
they " have authority over waters to turn them to blood, and to 
smite the earth with all plagues," as in the time of Mcjses ; and 
" they have authority to shut heaven that it rain not in the days 
their prophecy," as in the time of Elias (verse 6). And in fact 
what will be found in these times answers much to what you 
have in Moses and Elijah. Tliere was idolatry in Israel then, 
and a remarkable testimony of Elijah against it. God Himself 
chastised His people — the heavens were as brass towards them. 
So will it be found again. The person who then sways the des- 
tinies of Israel will be an apostate who admits and enforces 
idolatry. Again, Israel will be found in subjection to Gentile 
authority, as they were in the days of Moses ; yet there will be 
a little remnant set apart for God. But although these two wit- 
nesses are guarded for a certain time by miracles, yet the moment 
the days are over they have no power, so to speak. The beast 
that ascends out of the bottomless pit makes war with them, and 
they are killed like others. 

"And their dead bodies [shall be] on the street of the great 
city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also 
their Loid was crucified" (verse 8). It is perfectly plain that 
this is Jerusalem. Many think it is Eome, because as has been 
said before, Protestants are absorbed in, and biassed by, their 
controversies witli Popery. God attaches the greatest possible 
interest to His people Israel, when His rights as to the earth 
are in (picstion. But why is there not more said about Popery 
in the scriptures ? Because God never acknowledges His church 
as an earthly people. The politics, pursuits, and interests of 
this world are well enough for tliose who liave nothin" but an 


earthly povtiou and want no earthly intruder; but to strive 
with the potsherds of the earth is beneath those of heavenly 

We have now come down in this chapter to Jerusalem, the 
centre of God's dealings and testimony, and of the opposition 
from the abyss. Their great antagonist is plainly mentioned 
here, for the first time in the Eevelation, as "the beast," just as 
if you had known all about him before. It is a remarkable 
power, not merely arising, as in clrap. xiii., out of the sea, but 
here, as in chap, xvii., said to ascend " out of the bottomless pit." 
This empire does not arise out of the earth, the symbol of a state 
of settled government, as the second beast in chap. xiii. 11, nor 
only out of the sea, which sets forth an unsettled revolutionary 
condition. There is the extraordinary and awful feature added 
in this passage, that it rises out of the abyss. Satan has to do 
with its last state. It has been a darling project of men from 
time to time to form a vast universal empire. Charlemagne 
tried it, but he failed. He never got the old Roman earth under 
his hand. And some can remember another who had the same 
thing near his heart, but he too failed and died a miserable exile. 
But the time hastens when that very scheme will be realised. 
In otlier empires there has always been the providence of God 
overruling. There was God above them, God calling on His 
people to shew allegiance to the powers that be, no matter how 
they were formed. The Christian was not to meddle with them, 
but to acknowledge them and to pay tribute. But there is an 
empire about to be formed, that will be as thoroughly under the 
immediate power of Satan, as all past empires have been under 
the providence of God ; and God will withdraw that care and 
check that He has hitherto kept over the kingdoms of the world 
and will allow all to ripen to a head under Satan. Justly, there- 
fore, is this empire said to arise out of the bottomless pit. 

This corresponds with what we have in Daniel. The person 
that would specially meddle with the Jews (chap. vii. 25 ; ix. 27) 
is the Roman beast, the leader of that very empire which in its 
last state God does not own. When Jesus was born, the fourth 
or Roman empire was tliere, and God took advantage of its de- 
crees to bring the heir of David to Bethlehem. It was "the 

Q 2 


beast " that was there. In Rev. xvii. it is written, " the beast 
that was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit " 
(verse 8). But observe a notable feature that Daniel does not 
furnish, and that John does. He gives three successive stages 
of the Eoman empire. It was existing in John's time ; then it 
was to cease ; and last of all it should arise out of the bottom- 
less pit, special Satanic influence being connected with its final 
state. The beast " that is not " describes exactly its present 
condition of non-existence. The Goths and Vandals came down 
upon it, and the old Roman empire came to ruin. Since tlien, 
men have never been able to re-organize it, because God has 
another thought. He has laid it down in His word that it is to 
be re-organized, not by man, but by Satan's power. Its sources 
will be from beneath. How remarkable is all this ! We have 
had the decline and fall of the Roman empire, but there is one 
thing that no historian could trace — that prophecy alone could 
and does give; viz., the restoration of the Roman empire. May we 
see it, not as being on earth, but as looking on it from heaven ! 

I believe that those who reject the gospel now will, if then 
alive, be carried away by the dreadful delusions of that day. 
They will receive the mark of the beast in their right hand or 
in their foreheads ; they will worship his image ; and it is writ- 
ten by God that those who do shall be tormented in everlasting 
lire. The world may fancy, from all the increase of grandeur 
and prosi)erity and luxury which will be brought in then or pre- 
viously, tliat the millennium is come ; but it will be Satan's 
millennium. That is the fate reserved for these countries ; for 
it is part of the righteous judgment of God, that where the 
"ospel has been preached, and the world has trifled with it, even 
allowing idolatry for political purposes, He will withdraw the 
light and send them strong delusion. And then Satan will bring 
out the man of sin. There is inniiense practical importance in 
all this. People may ask, " What is the good of it all to us as 
Christians, if we are to be taken away before ?" Such a way of 
speaking slights what God has been pleased to reveal to us. 
When God spoke beforehand about the destruction of Sodom did 
Abraham say. What has that to do with me ? God would have 
our hearts to be drawn out in praise and thanksgiving for 


His grace and His love to our own souls, but He tells us also 
the sad doom which awaits the world, and awakens the spirit 
of intercession as with Abraham for Lot for unfaithful saints 
who may be mixed up with it. 

I would just remark, as to the two witnesses, that there is no 
necessity to take them as two persons : they might be two hun- 
dred. They are viewed as two witnesses (whether literally so or 
not), because it is a divine principle that " out of the mouth of 
two or three witnesses every word shall be established." God 
was giving a sufficient testimony. These maintained Christ's 
title to the earth, that He was "the Lord* of the earth," and 
this excited enmity. "The beast" might not so much have cared 
if they had said "the Lord of heaven;" but they claimed the 
earth, not for themselves, but for Him, and men will not bear it. 

Unbelief likes present enjoyment, and anything which inter- 
feres with this and makes conscience uneasy is hateful and 
unwelcome. And so, when the testimony is finished, and the 
witnesses are overthrown, not only the beast but two great parties 
of mankind are affected by their fall. "And some of the peoples, 
and kindreds, and tongues, and nations, see their dead bodies 
three days and an half, and do not suffer their dead bodies to be 
put into a grave; and they that dwell on the earth rejoice over 
them . . , and shall send," &c. (verses 9, 10.) It is not the first 
or the only time that we have this distinction drawn between 
" peoples, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations," and " those 
that dwell on the earth." The latter does not mean men in earth 
merely ; it carries a moral force with it, and means those who 
are essentially earthly-minded, who do not in heart and ways 
rise above the earth. The dead bodies of the witnesses are on 
the street of the great city ; and they of the people, and kin- 
dred, and nations see them there three days and a half, and do 
not suffer them to be put in graves. This was bad enough — 
being the malice of man against those who witnessed for God. 
But " they that dwell on the earth " go much farther. For in 

* The received reading 9eov is not without the support of some cursives, 
^th., Slav., &c. But all the uncials and most cursives, version.s, and fathers 
read Kvpiov. The former was probably due to the tempting antithesis r^ 0£y 
Toil ovpavoii, in verse 13. 


their case, there is positive rejoicing and making merry, and 
sending gifts one to another. And why was all this ? Because 
it is said, " these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on 
the earth." 

This is not a mere imaginary distinction, nor only founded 
upon one passage. If you look elsewhere, you will find the 
same thing. Thus in chapter xiv. 6, " And I saw another angel 
tiy in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to 
preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, 
and kindred, and tongue, and people," there is the converse of 
what we have here. We first find the mass of the Gentile 
people, who shew out their evil against the two witnesses by 
not allowing their dead bodies to be buried. But the special 
rejoicing is on the part of the dwellers on the earth, or the 
earthly-minded. But in chapter xiv. we find God sends a solemn 
message, the everlasting gospel. And with, whom does He 
begin? With the worst — "them that dwell on the earth," tow 
KaO-rjixeuovi, literally "that sit," which seems stronger than tovs 
KUTOLKovvTas, aud tlieu the message is extended to men generally. 
And on examination you will find this thoroughly confirmed by 
other passages. In other words, to " dwell on the earth " is not 
a mere vague description of men, but it expresses a moral 

But to return : God interferes. " And after three days and 
an half, the [or a] Spirit of life from God entered into them, and 
they stood upon their feet ; and great fear fell upon them. And 
they* heard a loud voice from heaven saying unto them. Come 
up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in the cloud ; and 
their enemies beheld them" (verses 11, 12). It is not merely 
in a cloud (as in the authorised version), but in the cloud. I it was the cloud seen in the beginning of chapter x., 
whicli encircled the mighty angel. The cloud, the known especial 
emblem of Jehovah's presence, was that wliicli received the wit- 

• The four Lest ancient uncials that are known as yet, N' A C P, with very many 
cursives confirm the rectdved reading, which is rather strengllicned, it seems to 
me, by the fact that elsewhere the hook has I'lKovaa. For assimilation, under 
such circtimstances, whether hy accident or design, is far more proLablo than 
the introduction of a difference. If this he so, the sense is that the witnesses 
had a puhlic and glorion.^ vindication in the sight and hearing of their enemies. 


nesses and proved that their Lord, the Lord of heaven as well 
as earth, was for them. They ascended up to heaven in the 
very face of their enemies. "And in the same hour was there 
a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in 
the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand : and the 
remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God 'of heaven." 
One word I would say, before going farther, on a remarkable 
distinction that occurs in this same verse. The witnesses tes- 
tified for the Lord of the earth ; but the people that were 
affrighted, when they saw how the cause of His martyred ser- 
vants was vindicated, gave glory to the God of heaven. It will 
be then an easier thing for men to acknowledge God above in a 
vague sort of way, than to own Him as the Lord of the earth, 
concerning Himself about what men do here below. The former 
might be merely to regard Him as One seen in the distance ; 
though in a higher sense I may know Him as One that comes 
down to give me a portion with Himself above. Thus God in 
heaven is either exceedingly near to His people, or far off to those 
who are merely acted upon by transient terror. The worldly man 
can well allow the thought of God afar from himself; and this 
is just what we have here. They were alarmed by what was 
near. But there was no reception of the testimony, no conver- 
sion. They should have bowed to the Loixl of the earth. They 
gave glory to the God of heaven. But it is too late. There was 
slain in the earthquake " seven thousand names of men," as the 
margin gives it literally. 

First of all, we have seen the priestly remnant occupied in 
the worship of God — His holy remnant in the midst of the 
Jews in the latter day. After this we have the witnesses, who 
did not bring out on God's part what He is manifesting now, 
but asserted His rights with regard to the future, as prophecy 
naturally implies. Another remark I may here make. In the 
Eevelation an expression occurs that has often been misunder- 
stood. " The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." The 
meaning is not that all prophecy refers to the Lord Jesus Christ 
(which in a certain sense may be true), but that the witness of 
Jesus such as this book contains — what Jesus testifies in the 
Eevelation is the spirit of prophecy. It is the Holy Spirit as 


He is shewn lis throiigliout the book ; not brini^anj? into present 
comrauniou with the Lord Jesus in heaven, but communicating 
what He is to do by and by. They, the witnesses, asserted the 
title of Christ to the earth. Whatever men might say, the Lord 
was the one to whom it belonged, and He would soon come and 
make good their record. 

There is a third thing that the end of the chapter contains. 
Besides a priestly place, and then a prophetical testimony, there 
comes the kingdom. The trumpet sounds. And now it is not, 
as in the case of the witnesses, a proclamation fenced by mira- 
culous power ; that has come to a close — their own blood has 
sealed their work. But if it looked as if the beast had played 
an easy part in their death, God points to another thing : " The 
seventh angel sounded, and there were loud voices in heaven," 
&c. There is the announcement of a kingdom, heard not upon 
earth, but in heaven, and therefore, as soon as it is made, those 
that had the mind of Christ, "the twenty-four elders, who sit 
before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces and worshipped 
God." A little word I would desire to say upon this verse 15. 
As it stands now, it has a very weakened turn given to it : " The 
kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord 
and of his Christ." The true force is : " The world-kingdom of 
our Lord and of his Christ is come." This gives, in my opinion, 
a very different and weightier meaning to the verse. It is the 
world-kingdom ; and why ? Because this book has shewn us 
from the very beginning that there was another order of king- 
dom altogether. In chapter i. John spoke of himself as a 
"brother and companion in tril)ulation, and in the kingdom and 
patience in Christ." Thus the kingdom of Christ is there, and 
yet characterized, or at least accompanied, by tribulation and 
patience ! But the angel heralds in the kingdom of the Lord 
and of His Christ, as to this world. Previously it had been one 
only known to faith and calling for patience — a thing conse- 
quently that the world would not believe. Talk to them of a 
kingdom where people suffer, and where Christ allows them to 
suffer, instead of maintaining His rights ! And this is exactly 
what God's children have been called to go through from that 
day to this. 


But let me here say that this shews the extreme error of 
many good people who thiuk it quite right to use earthly power 
in seeking to establish the cause of Christ. For, not to speak 
of Eomanism but to look at Puritanism, they completely forget 
that the kingdom of Christ now is the kingdom of patience, and 
not of power. They judged because theirs was the right as they 
believed, therefore they ought not to suffer; whereas the only thing 
that God insists on is, that because the world is wrong and they 
right, therefore His children must suffer. Hence Peter testifies, 
" If, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this 
is acceptable with God." There evidently you have the great 
moral consequence of Christ's kingdom in practical things : a 
Christian is not buffeted because he is wrong, but because he 
does well. There is such a thing, even among God's people, as 
the being buffeted because they have gone astray. What was 
the trial of Lot ? And what that of Abraham ? It was to 
prove that the latter was faithful ; but Lot's was because he 
was unfaithful. Not that Abraham was always true to God ; 
but unfaithfulness with him was the exception, whereas I am 
afraid it was too often the case with poor Lot. No doubt, Lot 
was more happy in his outward circumstances. He was in the 
gate of the city, as we are told — sitting where he ought not, 
though where the flesh would like to be. We are not to sup- 
pose that he was drawn into the ungodliness of the community 
wherein he dwelt. No doubt he could expostulate very well as 
to the evil they were doing ; but evidently he was in the place 
of dishonour, as far as God was concerned, though not in the 
commission of open sin, if we only think of moral conduct. 
He was delivered through God's mercy, but ignominiously. 
His sons-in-law remained behind; his wife was made a lasting 
monument of her folly and sin. 

Abraham knew another kind of sorrow, the sorrow of a man 
that knew God, and that had come out at His word. We do 
find failure in Abraham, as for instance in Genesis xii. and xx. 
But though there were slips, still — looking at his spirit and 
walk as a whole — Abraham was a most blessed man of God, 
and a sample of faith to all, as God Himself puts him before 
us in Heb. xi. and elsewhere. He knew trial, because he was 


true to Gofl and to his calling. Lot knew it, because he was 
grasping after some present thing, a place in the world. And 
what was the issue ? A blow comes on that part of the world, 
and Lot was carried a\vay by it; and all that he had set his 
affections upon was swept away, and only restored to him by 
Abraham's timely succour, to be lost for ever when the judg- 
ment of Sodom came. At the close a dark spot of shame fastens 
upon that man, and he had bitterly to learn that for the believer 
a worldly path is one of frequent pain and disappointment, 
which, if persevered in, ensures present sorrow, and leaves be- 
hind it alike seeds of misery and fruits of shame. We must 
have one or otlier kind of suffering, if we are children of God 
at all ; either the suffering that comes upon the world, if we are 
unfaithful to God, or the sufferings of Christ because we confess 

Thus the seventh angel gives the signal that the mysterious 
form of the kingdom is at an end. Heavenly voices proclaim 
that this world's kingdom is become that of the Lord and His 
Christ. Instead of merely having a kingdom open to faith, and 
that none but believers value — a kingdom whose earthly portion 
is tribulation and waiting for the Lord, the only place that hope 
can take now — instead of this we have an entire change. God 
will no longer allow the world to be the camp, and parade, and 
sport of Satan ; and when the seventh trumpet sounds, it is 
announced that this world's kingdom of the Lord is come. If it 
be objected that the Lord Himself in John xviii. declares that 
His kingdom is not of this world, I reply that this is beside the 
mark. This world is never the source of His kingdom ; but is it 
not destined to be its sphere ? It was not His kingdom then, 
but this does not prove that it is not to be His kingdom at some 
future time, when He will fight and His servants too, though in 
a new way. Here you have the positive word of God that the 
world-kingdom of our Lord and of His Clirist is come. The 
sovereignty of the universe is transferred to the Lord Jesus: 
" And he shall reign unto the ages of the ages." Of course such 
a phrase as this must be taken in connection with the whole 
subject. When eternity is spoken of, it must be taken in its full 
and unlimited extent; but here it can oidy mean "for ever" in 


the sense of as long as the world lasts. And I feel, though it is 
not the brightest thought which our souls can enjoy in connec- 
tion with the future, yet that the Lord Jesus is to take the 
throne of the world is a very great rest to the heart in all the 
present confusion. It lifts one out of the spirit of the present ; 
because if I know that this is not the place of the church, but 
that I am now in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, I 
shall not be wanting honour or power in this world. We are to 
have a much better place in heaven, and the saints who will be 
on earth, when the Loi'd appears and we are with Him in glory, 
will be in the place of subjects. But what is the place of those 
who are in the kingdom and patience in Christ Jesus ? We shall 
not be subjects merely of Christ when He thus comes, but kings 
reigning with Him. Even now those who are rejected for Christ 
are rejected kings. They do not merely sing, " He loveth us," but 
" hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father." 

The Lord will have a kingdom suited to the earth; but the 
Jews are not destined to be kings. They will have on earth a 
very honoured place ; but even when the nation is converted to 
Him, they will never have the nearness that belongs to every 
soul, Jew or Gentile, who believes in Christ now. Our portion 
may seem to unbelief to be a most trying one, and trying it is 
now. But the Lord Jesus has trodden the path before, and known 
suffering such as none other could. He has gone through it all, 
and when He comes and takes the kingdom, He will assign His 
sufferers their place. They will be like the near companions of 
David when he came to the throne ; there was David in the cave 
of Adullam, and David hunted about upon tlie mountains by 
Saul; but it was David's faith, as a means, that had kindled the 
flame in their hearts. They caught the tone of David's soul; and 
though they had a time of sorrow, and there were many foolish 
men like Nabal who could taunt him with being some runaway 
servant, yet while David was rather quick to feel and too ready 
to gird his sword to his thigh, he takes a word from even a 
weaker vessel, and retreats into the better place of grace — the 
place of doing well, suffering for it and taking it patiently. And 
soon came the throne. What then ? The poor ones that had 
known his path of suffering and had shared his sorrows in the 


day of his rejection were now to share his honours. Wliere was 
Jonathan in that day? It is true that his heart clung to David, 
but his faith was not equal to the trial. And what was the con- 
sequence ? He fell on the mountains of Gilboa with his miserable 
father; and he whose heart would willingly have given the first 
place to David, and who had already stripped himself for David's 
sake, now falls with the world with which he had outwardly 
remained to the last. Thus whatever may be our affection for 
Christ, if I remain in a false worldly position, it will never be 
to my honour in the day of Christ, when they that suffer shall 
reign with Him. May we wait for that kingdom with hearts 
exercised by the truth ! 

It will be found that there are many persons who hear re- 
luctantly about the kingdom of Christ, professing always to 
like something touching more on the immediate need of the 
soul. But does not God know better what we want? What 
we most need is not to trust ourselves, but the living God. 
Always giving the first and last place to the cross of Christ, 
may we not forget that His kingdom is coming. Though the 
cross is the only resting-phace for the sinner, the kingdom is 
what cheers and encourages the saint in his path of faith and 
patience. There were those that followed David in his suffer- 
ings — separated, wherever they went, from all around. They 
were gathered from all conditions, and out of all parts : but it 
was being round David, and sharing God's thoughts and 
purposes about hiui, which sustained them. Though God has 
anointed the Lord Jesus Christ for it, still He lias not yet taken 
the kingdom in the sense of the world-kingdom that I have 
been speaking of. Having been rejected and crucified. He is 
gone above and we wait for Him, suffering meanwhile. But 
the day fast comes when it will no longer be tribulation and 
patience, but power and glory. All will be brought under 
sulijection to Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever. 

When this is heard in heaven, the twenty-four elders rise 
from their thrones (verse 16). How sweet is this ! Before, 
when glory was ascribed to God, or the Lamb appeared, they 
rose and cast themselves down before Him. They were ready 
for everything that exalted the Godhead. If it be as the 


Creator (chap, iv.), they prostrate themselves before Him that 
sat on the throne ; or if they hear of the slain Lamb who is 
about to unveil the secrets of futurity (chap, v.), they fall down 
before Him and proclaim Him worthy. 

So here now the last trumpet sounds, " the world-kingdom of 
our Lord and of His Christ" is announced, and forthwith the 
twenty-four elders are on their faces, giving God thanks, because 
He had taken to Him His great power and had reigned. It is 
true that it must be through much sorrow for guilty men. For 
the sword of judgment has to clear the way, that the sceptre of 
righteousness may have free course. " The nations were angry, 
and thy wTath is come," &c. But they knew well that, though 
man must come down with a crash, he will be exalted in the 
only true and enduring way in the kingdom of our Lord and of 
His Anointed. And so they give thanks to the Lord God 
Almighty, "that art, and wast [and art to come]" (verse 17). 
I beg leave to omit the last clause, "and art to come" — not as 
a conjecture (for conjecture on scripture is presumption), but 
because of what the best witnesses for the word of God really 
maintain. The clause, " and art to come," was put in to make 
it square with other passages which contain a similar phrase. 

In the first chapter you may remember that the salutation 
was, " Grace unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which 
was, and which is to come." All these three clauses are from 
God. They assert that He is Jehovah, the One that is, and 
was, and is to come ; they are almost a translation into the 
Greek of the name Jehovah — One who is always the same. 
A similar phrase appears in chapter i. 8, only there it is not 
John's salutation to the churches, but the direct word of God 
Himself: "I am Alpha and Omega, saith the Lord God, which 
is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty," — 
evidently pointing to the unchanging continuity of His being. 
In chap. iv. there is a little departure from the order given in 
the previous passages, and quite rightly : " Holy, holy, holy, 
Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come;" not 
" which is, and was," &c., but here, " which was and is." It may 
seem a slight change, but it is not without meaning. The 
emphasis in chap. i. is thrown upon the words, " which is," be- 


cause God is presenting Himself as the ever-existing One. 
"Which was" is put first in chapter iv., possibly because the 
living creatures (who had been the instruments of God's judg- 
ments in past dispensations, as tliey will be in the future) may 
look back upon the past, and therefore do not lay stress upon 
" which is," but begin with what God had been all through the 
past. Certainly they had been seen first at the garden of Eden 
as Cherubim (Gen. iii.) ; next they formed a sort of represen- 
tation of the judicial power of God in the tabernacle and in 
the temple (Exod. xxv. ; 1 Kings vi.) ; and then finally they 
were active when Jerusalem was swept away, and judgment 
came upon Israel. In Eev. iv., Ezek. i. xi. these living creatures, 
which had been the witnesses of God's ways all through, begin 
with what God was, the perfection of His being as, if one may 
so say, it had been historically unfolding. In chap. xi. there is 
the omission of the words, " and art to come," perhaps because 
the arrival of the world-kingdom of the Lord is here celebrated, 
so that there was no need to add anything. Before He came in 
His kingdom, it was appropriate ; but it would be hardly suit- 
able here. As I find that the best authorities reject the words, 
it is surely legitimate to try to shew how the Ijetter reading 
harmonizes with the truth of God in the passage itself. 

The general meaning of the next verse (18) is plain. "The 
nations were wroth, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the 
dead, that they should be judged," &c., all which was to be 
executed afterwards. It is a sort of comprehensive view of what 
would take place from the beginning of the kingdom, wlien the 
various corruptions should be judged, and (hiring the millen- 
nium up to "the end," when all judgment closes. 

The three great thoughts then of this chapter, as we have 
seen, are priestly worship ; next a pi-ophetic testimony ; and 
finally the kingdom announced in heaven as come. The Lord 
grant that our hearts, brought into the enjoyment of such 
privileges, may be with Christ, not merely because of the bless- 
iufr, but for His own sake ! Christ is better than all the l)lessings 
that come even from Him ; and we shall never rightly enjoy 
what lie gives, except in proportion as we enjoy Himself. 


That the greater part of the chapter refers to the antipapal 
witnesses, crowned by the Eeformatiou, though urged with 
confidence and with no lack of ingenuity, I cannot but regard 
as a total failure, involving in some places a sense not only 
different from, but the reverse of, the express language of the 
prophecy. Thus the giving of a reed like a rod to John is 
supposed to denote the royal authorization of the Eeformer 
whom the prophet here impersonated. This is said to have been 
fulfilled after the death of Frederick, the Elector of Saxony, 
when his brother and successor John assumed to himself 
supremacy in ecclesiastical matters, and exercised it resolutely 
by forming new ecclesiastical constitutions, modelled on the 
principles of Luther, the example being followed elsewhere in 
Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and afterwards in England. How 
singular that men of God should be so prepossessed with Protes- 
tantism, and so enamoured even of its blots, as to turn the word 
of God into a sanction of the very things in which the Eeformers 
departed from scripture as widely perhaps as they did from 
Rome ! I am aware that the application of the rod in this 
passage to the intervention of civil authority is at least as old 
as Brightman ; but this ought to have given time for considering 
and rejecting so unworthy a notion. Nothing can be simpler, 
it seems to me, than the truth intended. In prospect of the 
approaching divine government of the earth, Israel and their 
land become as ever the central object. The Lord therefore 
takes special cognizance of them, marking what He owns and 
what He leaves out. The outside multitude are disowned ; 
account is taken only of those who worshipped within — a dis- 
tinction far indeed from being true of Protestants in contrast 
with Papists. The reed was the instrument of measurement, 
not of gold (as for the heavenly Jerusalem), but " like a rod." 
There seems an allusion to Zech. ii. (and Ezek. xl. 3), with just 
such differences as in the reference of verse 4 to Zech. iv. 
There it is a measuring line (axoivtW yew/xerptKov), and the entire 
city is to be measured. Here it is but a special part, measured 
by that which was not longer than a staff, which the Lord 
reserved as His portion during the crisis, the rest being profaned 
by the Gentiles for forty-two months. It is very far from being 


the due re-establishmeut of Jerusalem, but it is the little pledge 
of all that is to follow. A similar remark applies here as before. 
Precisely so far as the Eeformers slipped into Jewish ideas and 
order, instead of falling back upon the true and heavenly 
peculiarities of the church of God, there may be an appearance 
of definite fulfilment. Had they walked in separation from the 
world, the author of Horae Apoc. must have lost a large pro- 
portion of his apparent identifications. 

In the two witnesses, which is tlie next subject of importance, 
this comes out very clearly. Their earlier history is supposed 
to be retrospectively given, along with what remained to be 
fulfilled. As to their personality, we are agreed : they are not 
things or books, but persons who testify. But the testimony of 
Jesus, it is well to note, means not merely for Him, but the 
spirit of prophecy proper to this book. The gospel is not the 
subject. Further, the two olive-trees and the two candlesticks 
have nothing to do with the churches (or a eto-ti/). That theme 
is completely closed, as we have seen repeatedly ; and we are 
here avowedly in presence of the proclamation of Christ's title 
to land and sea. Hence, as it is added, these stand " before the 
Lord of the earth." In a word, the connexion is not with the 
church-state, which then will have long past, but with the order 
predicted in Zech. iv., which undoubtedly refers to the millennial 
provision for the light of God in the midst of Israel. 

Doubtless, there are points of distinction ; for our chapter 
belongs in its full meaning to the interval after the rapture of 
the saints and before the thousand years. There is one candle- 
stick all of gold in Zechariah, with its bowl, its seven lamps, 
its seven pipes, and an olive-tree on either side ; perfect unity 
and i^erfect development. Whatever may liave been the then 
historical accomplishment in Zerubbabel and Josliua, the two 
anointed ones of the Jewish prophet point in their fulness to 
the kingly and priestly offices of Christ, the grand means of 
dispensing and maintaining divine light in " the workl to come." 
Here it is only a testimony to these things ; and therefore, as the 
least sufficient testimony according to tlie law, there M'ere two 
witnesses. The oil here is associated, not with joy, but with 
mourning ; and the witnesses are clothed, not with the garment 


of praise, but Avith the sackcloth of affliction. Avenging power 
is theirs, like that of Moses and Elijah. How vain to bend all 
this to the witnessing Christians, Western or Eastern, earlier or 
later ! Their calling practically was to resist not evil, to love 
their enemies, to bless those who cursed them, to do good to 
such as hated them, to pray for their persecutors ; and this, as the 
Lord expressly illustrated it, after the pattern of their heavenly 
Father, who, instead of shutting heaven that it rain not, con- 
trariwise sends it in indiscriminate mercy on just and unjust. 

Of course, on the historical view (which in a general way I 
allow), the days of their prophecy are years, and the judgments 
must be taken figuratively. But liow, if it be pretended that this 
is all fulfilled ? Had the Paulicians and the Waldenses (sup- 
posing them to be true witnesses untainted by heresy) authority 
to withhold the dew of grace all their days, or to smite with 
plagues as often as they would ? To curse the earth with a 
spiritual drought is still more tremendous than if it were in a 
physical sense, even though their power embraced heaven, earth, 
the waters, and their enemies. I perceive, however, that an 
effort is made to escape the difficulty of the devouring fire that 
issues from them, by referring to the final fiery judgment on the 
adversaries {H. A., ii. pp. 203, 407) ; but what can be lamer than 
such shifts ? Present judicial power, continuous or occasional, 
against all opposers is the true and full meaning : like Elijah's 
in the midst of an apostate people, and like Moses' in the midst 
of a people oppressed and enslaved by the Gentiles. But as 
their testimony is prophetic and not the gospel, so it is armed 
with judgment instead of breathing grace. Righteous vengeance 
guards the claims of the Lord of the earth. Heaven is the 
source, centre, and home of grace. It is in the vaguest con- 
ceivable way that a delineation like this can be made to suit 
proper Christian witnesses ; and it is chiefly the mixture of 
Jewish feeling and conduct, found alas ! too often and especially 
in dark times, which lends a colour to such applications. I 
hardly like to notice the fancied coincidence of the black goat- 
skin of the Vaudois and the sackcloth, or of the motto of the 
Counts of Lucerna {lux lucet in tenedris) and the candlestick. 

But now comes another obvious and grave objection to the 



scheme of the Harm Apoccdypticae. The natural meaning of 
verse 7 of course is, that when their 12G0 days of testimony 
have expired the beast kills the witnesses. But this does not 
fit in with past facts. Criticism is therefore summoned to siib- 
stitute an ambiguous word, so as to convey that after their death 
many of the days may yet remain to run out. Difficulties are 
pressed, but they are not insuperable. For the witnesses have 
an exceptional place, and therefore might be miraculously main- 
tained for their allotted period, while saints generally were 
suffering and slain. And the beast's forty-two months might 
coincide with the 1260 days of the witnesses consistently with 
the brief interval of three and a half days' exposure and their 
rise and ascent to heaven, the earthquake, &c. For what act 
against God or His people is attributed to him afterwards ? I 
know of none. So that it might still be true that their testi- 
mony and his " practising" close together, while a short space 
might intervene before the execution of God's judgments on the 
beast in the height of his triumph. In other words, the forty-two 
months define the epoch not of the beast's destruction, but of 
his being permitted " to work." Daniel entirely strengthens this 
conclusion ; for we find in chap. xii. an interval of some length 
after the three and a half years before full blessing comes. 

It is extraordinary that a learned person should cite Gal. v. 
16 and Heb. ix. 6, as parallel with Kev. xi. 7. For it is plain 
from the absence of the article that the first passage goes no 
farther than fulfilling flesh's lust. That is it could not mean the 
termination of the whole career of lust. Tiie anarthrous usage 
here is, in fact, the strong and needed assurance that walking in 
the Spirit is the divine safeguard against fulfilling anything of 
the sort. In our text it is a definite testimony, of which the 
length had been carefully specified ; and whether you translate 
it finished or completed, the full time is, it seems to me, neces- 
sarily involved. The passage in Heb. ix., every scholar must 
know, has no bearing on the case, because the tense implies a 
continued or habitually repeated action; while tlie tense in Kev. 
X. implies an action complete or concluded. Indeed, it is plain 
that to the interpreters in general this word has proved an in- 
superable difficulty. Hence the rendering of Mede, " when they 


shall be about finishing," and so Bishop Newton. Equally offen- 
sive to mere grammar is that of Daubuz, " whilst they shall 
perform their testimony;" or the earlier view of Mr. Elliott,* 
"when the witnesses shall have been fulfilling." The truth is 
that, interpreted with simplicity, according to the regular mean- 
ing of the word and in harmony with the context, the witnesses 
are divinely protected the 1260 days of their testimony. Then, 
their mission having been completed, and not before, God per- 
mits that the beast should fight, overcome, and slay them. But 
this, applied strictly on the year-day scale, completely destroys 
Mr. E.'s interpretation in particular, if not the Protestant school 
generally, save that some of them refer a part as being yet un- 
fulfilled to the future. 

jVIanifestly the previous dislocation of the prophecy leads to 
the next error, that "the great street of the city," or "the street 
of the great city" (verse 8), refers to Eome and not Jerusalem. 
Now, I am not disposed to deny that, on the prolonged view, 
such an application is left room for, especially considering the 
peculiar way in which the city is here alluded to. But this is 
the utmost which can be fairly granted, and it not at all excludes 
the closing fulfilment in the actual city wherein the Lord of the 
witnesses was crucified. Tlie context seems to me quite decisive 
that Jerusalem is intended ; for nobody doubts that, whether 
literally or figuratively understood, the holy city of the opening 
verses (the centre of the testimony, though in the face of pro- 
faning Gentiles) is not Eome but Jerusalem. It is agreed that 
the beast is Eoman, bat this in no way strengthens the theory 
that Eome is the city here intended. His making war upon the 
witnesses is, on the contrary, much more naturally applicable to 
a locality not under his own immediate jurisdiction. No doubt 
Babylon is the symbolic designation of Eome in chapter xvii., 
where Eome is confessedly the great city, and so of course in 
chapters xiv. xvi. But Babylon has not been named as yet, and 
there is no reason why Jerusalem also should not be so styled ; 
especially as the figurative terms, Sodom and Egypt conjoined, 

* Is it right to refer to Hippolytus, as if lie agreed with Mr. E.'s idea of the 
witnesses making complete their testimony, long before the whole period as- 
signed, or their own death ? The very reverse was his belief. 

R 2 


are nowhere else connected with Eome, and the fact which 
winds up the description (" where also their Lord was cruci- 
fied") points to Jerusalem.* If it were said eKX-qOrj historically 
(or KeKXrjTaL, the present result of the past), there might have 
been more difficulty ; for, though scripture had already likened 
Jerusalem of old to Sodom, it had not to Egypt. But the refer- 
ence is to the moral features of Jerusalem, as it is to be in the 
days of the witnesses, and so KaAetrai is strictly correct. And 
certainly if Nineveli had the title as well as the Chaldean 
Babylon in the Old Testament, it is hard to see why, in the 
Apocalypse, Jerusalem might not have it as well as Eome, sup- 
posing that the context looks that way. Thus the question to 
what city our chapter refers nmst be judged by the conclusion 
to which we come as to all this part of the Eevelation, and as 
to chapters x. and xi. in particular. The grand point is that the 
things which come to pass after "the things that are" do not 
belong (save in the general moral bearing already and so often 
acknowledged) to the present order of things, but to the transi- 
tional epoch when God is about to bring the First-born into the 
inhabited earth. Therefore He will then be busied with the 
provisional government of the world, and hence specially with 
the Jews, who are the prominent object and direct instrument of 
His earthly rule. Accordingly the witnesses, as we have remarked 
before, are said to stand before the Lord of " the earth ; " for this 
is in question, not His ways with the church. 

Hence, whatever may be thought of the coincidence in 
mystic reckoning between the not very truthful speech at the 
Fifth Lateran Council, (" Jam nemo reclamat, uuUus obsistit,") 
which in the skilful hands of Mr. E. is made to denote the ex- 
tinction of the witnesses, and Luther's posting up his theses at 
Wittemberg three and a lialf years afterwards, whicli denotes 
their resurrection, I cannot but regard the interpretation as 
forced an unnatural. The only unljiassed way of taking the 
account is that tlie 1260 days were fultilled when the prophets 

• Wcro the rcadinj? such as Mr. E. repeatedly represents it (of course 
through oversight), nXaTiiif Tt]Q iz. n/c /i. (7/. A., vol. ii. p. 409, note 4, and 
yet more incorrectly in vol. iv. p. 579, note 1), there had heeu no room for this 
rendering, which some very competent ,j udges prefer. 


were slain. A\niat more absurd than to imply that, in spite of 
their death, they are still safe and sound for centuries afterwards, 
and that the sackcloth testimony on earth can co-exist* with 
their ascent to heaven, understand heaven as one may ? But 
once the Protestant scheme is made the exclusive fulfilment, 
can one be surprised that the marvellous explanations given to 
the earlier part of the chapter are only surpassed by increasing 
wonders in the latter portion ? Certainly few councils had less 
claim to be considered made up of delegates from the peoples, 
and kindreds, and tongues, and nations, than that almost exclu- 
sively Italian assembly. Dean Waddington, who did not write 
for the purpose of illustrating Eev. xi., records that the Bohe- 
mian heresy " was again rising into formidable attention" at 
this very time. Who can think that the breath of the orator 
slew them ? If they refused to answer the summons to Rome, 
John Huss had done the same before them, and Luther did so 
after them. It may have been want of courage ; but Prague, 
Augsburg, and Worms were not the same thing as such a council 
held in Rome. I need not dwell on the enactment refusing Chris- 
tian burial to heretics, the Pope's extraordinary donation of — 
not the golden rose only, but — the sovereignty of half the Eastern 
world to the King of Portugal, the grant of a plenary papal in- 
dulgence, the singing of the Tc Deum, or the splendour of the 
dinners and fetes given on the triumphant close of the Council. 
But the deductions from verses 12, 13, must not be passed 
over. The call to the witnesses is made a summons from the 
highest authorities to ascend "the heaven of political elevation 
and dignity," and was fulfilled first by the pacification of Nu- 
remberg (1532), and yet more by the Peace of Passau twenty 
years after. The cloud is conceived to imply that these political 
triumphs were the terminating result of Christ's special inter- 
vention, and to identify the cause of the witnesses with the 
Reformation. The effects of this mighty revolution in the over- 
throw of the tenth part of the city, and the slaying of seven 
chiliads,! are set forth as the fall of papal dominion in England, 

* The alleged case of Rev. vii. 1, 2, has nothing, to my mind, in common, 
t Some readers will be curious to learn by what process of legerdemain these 
slain chiliads can be metamorphosed into the Protestant Dutch provinces which 



and ill the seven Dutch United Provinces, And the ascending 
Protestants gave glory to the God of heaven, as on Mary's death, 
Elizabeth's accession, the destruction of the Armada, and the 
reign of William III. Thus, commercial and maritime and 
colonial power crowning Protestant England and Holland, it 
began to appear why the covenant angel planted his right foot 
on the sea, his left only on the mainland. Insular, missionary, 
England was to be the principal instrument of asserting Christ's 
claims to universal dominion and gospel truth against papal 
usurpation and lies. Could one ask for more palpable evidence 
of the absurd and mischievous effects of a wrong system ? To 
refute such trifling with the word of God appears to me hardly 
called for. And what can we say to the delusion that the loud 
voices in heaven, under the seventh trumpet (verse 15), pro- 
ceeded from "the religious world of the great Protestant powers?" 
Or that its general indications coincide with the more prominent 
characteristics and concomitants of the past French Eevolution? 
(vol. iii. p. 338.) We must impute these extravagancies to the 
necessity of the case; for the text requires that the last woe 
should follow quichly after that of the Turks (verse 14). Hence 
the desire to make out something in the seventeenth century, 
because of the great Reformation of the sixteenth, so as to fill up 
the great gap that follows. It is the more strange, as Mr. E. had 
already (vol. ii. p. 474) made the seventh trumpet to include not 

threw off the Spanish yoke. Cocceius threw out the notion first, but it was re- 
jected by Vitringa and the more sober commentators, till Mr. E. re-asserted it. 
It is said that the Hebrew equivalent, Fl^X was used in the course of Jewish his- 
tory for a tribal subdivision, without reierencc to that number, and even for 
the di.>5trict in question. On this very slender basis, in conjunction with the old 
error of the Christian twelve tribes of Israel, all is founded. The fact is, that 
XiXirtc in the Apocalypse and the New Testament generally, is used in no such 
contradistinction to the numeral adjective. It is applied, in the simplest possible 
way, to soldiers, believers, and Israelites. It is said of angels, of men, and of a 
mcasui'c. Nor is there in the Septuagint the least real ground that I can see for 
taking the word in even one instance as a province, or territorial subdivision. 
Yet the substantive occurs more commonly than the adjective. The truth is that, 
according to the meaning of the verse, the seven thousand (or complete body 
devoted to death) fell with the tenth part of the city, not those there, and these 
here. And the affrighted remnant consists of the other inhabitants of the guilty 
city, in contrast with the complement of the slain in the sphere of the earth- 
quake's ravages. 


the events alone, that are preparatory to Christ's reign, but the 
millennium itself, and even all other revealed events beyond it. 

In verse 19 I think that the opening of the temple in heaven 
marks a new portion of the book, and that it is therefore con- 
nected, not so much with what went before, as with what follows ; 
for it is clear that the verses before (15-18) gave the sounding 
of the last trumpet, and the announcement of the consequences 
of God's taking to Him His great power and reigning — not the 
mere sway of man, but the power of God put forth in an alto- 
gether new way. There was a sample of His power, but not in 
connexion with Christ, at the time when He fought the battles 
of His people and put down the Canaanites. But then it was 
exercised within failing, guilty Israel, without their Messiah ; 
and consequently that power was often obliged to be put 
forth against themselves, and not against their enemies only, 
because God can never have alliance with sin. But now, under 
the last trumpet, the kingdom of the Lord God and of His 
Christ was come, and this is what the earth looks for, and the 
Lord Himself too ; for He is waiting " till His enemies be made 
His footstool" Then the whole scene here below will be 
changed. He will come and execute wrath as terrible as His 
patience has been divine ; and the effect will be that, " when 
His judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world 
will learn righteousness." There will be the presence of the 
Lord Jesus and the absence of Satan ; there will be, not only 
the execution of wrath on the living, but finally also the 
judgment of the dead. And these things seem to be brought 
together under the same trumpet. All is anticipated from the 
beginning of the kingdom to the end of it — all the main dis- 
plays of divine glory in the government of both quick and 
dead. And there evidently the subject closes ; for the opening 
of the temple of God in heaven (verse 19) ushers in another 
and wholly different vision, which has not directly to do with 
God in His kingdom, but here first of all it is a new theme that 
comes before us. 




Under the seventh trumpet the elders anticipated the effects of 
the throne being actually established over the earth. But now 
the UiivpU is again seen, so that we go back here, for we have 
God's purposes in connexion with the Lord Jesus from the very- 
beginning — the man child wlio was to rule all the nation with 
a rod of iron being clearly, as I tliink, Christ Himself It is 
God reverting to His purpose in Christ, born as the heir of the 
world — not in relation to the calling of the church, but as the 
man of might, destined to govern all, and witli no feeble hand. 
It appears to me that this accounts for another remarkable 
feature of the vision. Christ's death and resurrection are not 
alluded to, but His birth and His rapture (not His death) are 
given in a summary manner. We have the woman in pain to 
be delivered ; and the man child is born ; and then we have 
Him taken away to the throne of God above. Of course this 
is not given as history. The Lord Jesus had been born and had 
died long ago : if it had been history, His all-important death 
would not, could not, have been passed over. 

Here it is plain the Holy Ghost connects the birth of Christ 
and His rapture to- the throne of God in heaven with Israel and 
the purposes of God about them. The birth of Christ is of 
special importance to Israel. The genealogy of the INIessiah is 
tlierefore carefully given in Matt. i. ; and in chapter ii. we find 
all Jerusalem was troubled at His birth. This was the working 
of the dragon. Herod was a sort of expression of the dragon's 
power, who would gladly have devoured the child as soon as it 
was born, through that evil king as his instrument. The child 
was delivered ; but in the history, instead of being taken up to 
the throne of God, He was carried down into Egypt. So that 


our chapter cannot be regarded as historical, in the early part at 
least ; and even where historical facts are alluded to, they are 
not arranged in order of fact at all, but simply linked with God's 
thoughts about Israel. The church as such is passed over. It 
may be involved mystically in the person and destiny of the 
man child, but there is no gradual unfolding of the thoughts of 
God as to His having a heavenly bride for His Son. Nothing is 
said about a bride for the man child. We have the mother, but 
not the Lamb's wife here. Israel was the mother of Christ. It 
was of them, as concerning the flesh, that the Christ was born. 
This is the great point which the apostle Paul urges on the Jews 
in Eomaus ix., because the Jews thought he made light of their 
privileges, and was against them, in consequence of the strong 
way in which he brought out God's mercy to the Gentiles. 
But it was not so at all. He demonstrates, in fact, that they 
overlooked their highest distinction. To them were given the 
adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of 
the law, and the service of God, and the promises. They had 
the fathers too, and last of all, to them was given a Son, the 
man child, whom they knew not — the Christ ; for of them as 
to the flesh He came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. 
Far from lessening the just glory of Israel, the apostle had a 
much more exalted view of it than themselves. 

As in Kom. ix. Paul does not go on to speak of the death and 
resurrection of the Lord Jesus, so it is here. Accordingly these 
two thoughts are connected in Eev. xii. The man child is 
brought forth, but leaves the scene where the dragon was op- 
posed to Him, and takes His place upon the throne of God, 
which none but a divine person was entitled to do. By and by 
He will sit on His own throne, but that will be when He governs 
the earth in a direct and public way ; for God will never give 
up the right and title of the Lord Jesus to the earth as well as 
to the heavens. He has acquired a title by redemption, besides 
His essential one as Creator. But then He is going to do much 
better than to rule all nations with a rod of iron, or even bless 
His earthly people. His heart is to be shewn. He must liave 
a free course and a due object for all His love. Christ wants to 
have those that deserve nothing but judgment as the sharers of 


His glory above. What is done by Christ and for Christ, whilst 
He is upon the throne of God, is not alluded to here. Israel is 
in question. These few thoughts may be helpful to understand 
the proper place and bearing of this new vision. 

The temple of God then is opened in heaven,* and there was 
seen in it the ark of His covenant, the pledge of His faithfulness 
to His people. For, as we have observed in the last chapter, 
there was a certain measured remnant that drew near to God in 
the way of worship, and to these witnesses was given a testi- 
mony to the Lord's rights over the earth, as finally there was 
the announcement of the kingdom. Now we have another train 
of idea. There was the throne, and a rainbow round about it 
in Eev. iv. Here there is the temple, and the ark of God's 
covenant seen in it. This may prepare the way for the difference 
between the two subjects. There it was God's power over 
creation. Providential judgments were about to fall upon the 
earth, and the rainbow was to shew, before* a judgment was 
experienced, that even then God would remember mercy. The 
rainbow round the throne in chapter iv., and round tlie head 
of the mighty angel in chapter x. before the sounding of this 
last trumpet, guaranteed that God was working, not for the 
destruction, but for the deliverance of the earth. But now we 

* The true reading may not improLablj' be 6 iv tH ovpavHj which is in 
heaven. At any rate so the Alexandrian, and the Paria rescript, the Leicester, 
a Vatican cursive (579), the Middlehill, the Mortfort and one of the Parham (17) 
manuscripts say, not to speak of the Cod. Coialin. of Andreas and Victorinus : 
not so the Sinai, Basilian-Vat., and Porphyrian uncials, with the mass of cursives. 
Mr. E. is also quite wTong in saying that "according to Tregelles this is a mis- 
take." It is true that, in his first edition, he inadvertently omitted to name this 
various reading, though long before noted by Walton, ISIill, Bengel, (Wetstein 
probably,) and even adopted without question in the text, not of Wordsworth 
only, but of Lachmann, Tischcndorf, Green, and it appears Tregelles also, judg- 
ing from the new edition of 1859. ITnw it was thnt Mr. E. did not find it 
in the critical editions of Griesbach and of Seholz, it i.^ not for me to say : but 
there it unquestiunably may be found by any who examine them. In llahn's 
slight manual one could not rightly expect it given. To cite Kcv. xv. 5 where 
there is no difference of reading cannot decide one way or another as to chap, 
xi. 19, where there is such weighty testimony on both sides. The chief bearing 
of the later occurrence would perhaps bo to encourage assimilation in a bold 
scribe. Besides the article is often dropped carelessly, and especially might be 
in such a form as this, where its force is not at first sight apparent. 


come to a further point; for blessed as the throne is, it does not 
bring us into such depths of God's character, as do the asso- 
ciations of the temple and the ark. Displays of divine power 
are not so much what draw out our hearts in worship, as when 
we draw near to the dwelling-place and home of God Himself ; 
for though there is no one thing we have so truly to be ashamed 
of as our poor and inadequate answer to His holiness, yet it is 
just there God has met us in His grace. 

Now He is going to shew us not merely creation and man- 
kind smitten, but Satan's connexion with the final apostacy of 
this ageT There had been a figurative allusion to his influence 
in chap. ix. 2, where smoke issues out of the abyss or bottom- 
less pit ; then, in chap. xi. 7, the beast ascends out of that pit ; 
but here the evil source is thoroughly disclosed. And is it not 
precious to find that, before God discovers to us the tide of full 
evil, and shews us not merely the development and the instru- 
ments among men, but the great hidden spring of it all, and 
the person of him who puts himself at its head, and who is yet 
to work out this tremendous conspiracy against God — to find 
that before all this the temple of God in heaven was opened, 
and there was seen in His temple the ark of His covenant?* 
For the heart under such circumstances wants not the mani- 
festation of God's power merely, but to know that His holiness 
is secured, and that in virtue of it His people stand. Accord- 
ingly we find that when the temple is opened above, it is not 
a rainbow that is seen, but God's connexion with His people is 
set forth in the ark which now appears ; for the ark was always 
nearest to God, and what faith therefore most clave to. Israel 

* Mr. E. remarks (iii. 308, note 4), " It is clear that this word ought to have 
boen here translated covenant not testament. Indeed so I think, always in the 
New Testament specially inclusive of Heb. ix. ?" I should say in every place, 
except in Heb. ix. 16, 17, where the reference is clearly to the "inheritance" just 
named in verse 15. This, it seems to me, furnishes occasion to the inspired 
writer to found a fresh illustration of the all-important death of Christ upon 
the idea of a will or testament, which comes into effect only on the demise of 
the testator, tov StaOiftkvov. The latter word never means covenanting victim, 
nor do I believe it possible that it could. It was technically used for disposing 
of property. If these two verses be read parenthetically and with this sense, 
all is clear. I have no wish to speak dogmatically on a point so nice ; but such 
is the view which commends itself most to me. 

252 god's covenant. 

shewed themselves to be dead to fill right and godly feeling, 
when they were willing to expose it even in the hope of 
deliverance from the Philistines. The dying grief of Eli, and 
the living transports of David, alike shew what the ark was 
in the eyes of the true-hearted. Here it is the ark of God's 
covenant in heaven ; not merely that of Israel which might be 
taken away. Even the wise king did not adequately value the 
ark of old. And this shews the superiority of David ; for faith 
is always, if I may so say, wiser than wisdom. If we had the 
largest human intelligence, and even the highest natural wisdom 
that God can confer, it never rises up to the height of simple 
faith. Solomon appears before the great altar. It was a mag- 
nificent spectacle, and he was an august king, and brought 
suited offerings. But David shewed his faith in this, that it 
was not the altar merely which he prized, but the ark most 
of all. The ark was a liidden thing ; not even the high priest 
could see it, save wrapped in clouds of incense. One had to 
walk by faith and not by sight, in order to appreciate tlie ark 
of God. Therefore David could not rest until the ark had its 
settled place in Israel ; and he never had deeper joy than when 
the ark came back to Jerusalem. It is true that tlie ark brought 
judgment upon all who despised it, and even David's heart was 
afraid for a time, and the ark rested in the house of Obed-Edom 
the Gittite. But David regained the spring of contidence in 
God, which generally so marked his career; for we find him 
afterwards rejoicing when the ark was welcomed back more 
than ever he did in all his victories put together. 

Here, it is not the ark of man's covenant at all, but of God's 
covenant ; the temple of God in heaven is opened, not on earth 
yet (i.e. it is only the purpose of God about it) ; and associated 
witli this the ark of His covenant is seen, the sure pledge of 
mercy, and sign of faithfulness to His people. But still the 
circumstances were such as called for judgment ; and accord- 
ingly " there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and 
an earthquake, and great hail,"* all of which were the tokens of 

* It is amazing that the true relation of this verse escaped the notice of so 
many able Christian men, owing perhaps to tho more fact of its being iinfor- 
tiinatoly tacked to tho end of chap. .\i., instead of opening the new division 


God's judgment. The day of peace and gloiy was yet to come. 
Thus you get these two things united: first, the pledges of God's 
interest in, and triumph for, His people ; and then the signs of 
His judgment upon the evil that must be set aside before the 
time of full blessing. 

" And there appeared a great sign in heaven ; a woman 
clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her 
head a crown of twelve stars" (verse 1). I think it probable 
there may be an allusion here to the well-known dream that 
Joseph had of the sun, moon, and stars, explained by himself 
as alluding to his parents and brethren. Here the symbols are 
more general, and naturally refer — the sun to supreme glory, 
the moon to that which is derived, and the stars to inferior or 
subordinate authority. All this is seen in connexion with 
Israel ; for God intends, as far as this world is concerned, all 
power and glory to circle round Israel. As for the church, she 
will have all in perfection with Christ, and in Christ; but as far 
as the earth is concerned, Israel will be the centre. The woman 
is the symbol of God's purpose as bound up with Israel. 

In the next verse we have another thing ; it is the man by 
the woman. And so we find that " being with child, she crieth, 
travailing in birth, and pained to bring forth;" and a little after 
we read (verse 5) that " she brought forth a man child who is 
to rule all the nations," &c. Thus we see it was not the woman 
who was of such importance for her own sake, though clothed 
with all these symbols of glorious power ; but the reason is 
because from her comes the man child. And we shall find this 
thought is not at all foreign to scripture. Take for instance the 
Psalms, where the same thing is alluded to in a mystical way. 
Thus in Psalm Ixxxvii. the word is that the Lord is exalted ; 
His foundation is in the holy mountain. He is challenging the 
world to compare their best with what He can produce. " Je- 

commencing with chap. xii. If Mr. Elliott had only observed it, he might have 
been spared much trouble ; but then he would have lost the coincidence of the 
"great hail" with the stomi in July, 1788!! and the "earthquake" of the 
French Revolution in 1789. But the hailstorm he had hitherto interpreted as 
an invasion from the cold north-east. Where is the consistency of this vaunted 
scheme ? And what had the opening of the temple of God, or the sight of the 
ark of His covenant there, to do with the French democrats ? 


hovah loveth the gates of Zion," &c. He chose Zion out of all 
the cities of Israel, because God's sovereign choice must be 
carried out, even among His people. " I will make mention of 
Rahab and Babylon to them that know me." Rahab was the 
figurative name for Egypt, and Egypt and Babylon were the 
most famous nations in the Psalmist's time. Philistia, with 
Tyre and Ethiopia, were, no doubt, powers of inferior order, 
but extremely celebrated for their trade, commerce, skill, &c. 
Of them it shall be said, " This man was born there." And of 
Zion, "This and that man was born in her, and the Highest 
himself shall establish her. Jehovah shall count," &c. I be- 
lieve there is a dim allusion to the birth of the Christ, where 
God and His people glory so to speak, (whatever other men 
may have been,) that this man was born there. The reference 
is, I think, to the Lord Jesus chiefly, if not alone. Let otliers 
boast of their great men, but " Jehovah shall count when he 
writeth up the people, that Tins man was born there." When 
He writeth up the people, of whom does He think ? Why of 
Christ ; of the One that was born of the woman, born of Israel, 
and now caught up to heaven. When we are on the look-out 
for Christ, passages will be found to bear upon Him, more or 
less distinctly, all through scripture ; for He who wrote tlie 
scriptures had Christ ever in view. It is not the death of 
Christ we hear in this Psalm, because this would have brought 
the sin of the Jews prominently before them. But it is His 
birth, which was or should have been unmingled joy. And 
therefore when Jesus was born, the heavenly hosts broke forth 
in praises, " Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, 
good-will in men." There was no troul)le among them, what- 
ever might be the feelings of Herod and all Jerusalem, Their 
great joy was what Christ would be for God and men, and 
especially for the city of David : in other words, just the suited 
feelings of those heavenly ones, that were not occupied with 
themselves, permitted to see the counsels of God as to His 

There is another scripture or two I would briefly refer to, where 
we may get help as to the meaning of this woman and her child, 
not merely as to the fact of the birth, but in its connexion with 


prophecy. Micah v. furnishes a passage that both acquires and 
gives light when compared with Eev. xii. " Now gather thyself 
in troops, daughter of troops ; he hath laid siege against us ; 
they shall smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek," 
The last words set forth, what we have not in the Eevelation, 
the rejection of Christ and the dishonour done to Him by His 
own people. Then the Holy Ghost interrupts the course of the 
chapter by a parenthesis ; for such is the whole of verse 2. * " But 
thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thou- 
sands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me 
that is to be the ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been of 
old, from everlasting." It is Christ after the flesh who is God 
over all, blessed for ever. There you have the two points of the 
glory of Christ : His glory as a man, as Messiah ; and withal, 
the One whose goings forth have been from of old, from ever- 
lasting. Then having shewn who this was (the man to be 
smitten but a divine person, which had made the sin of smiting 
Him unpardonable, if it had not been for infinite mercy). He 
takes up again what we had in the first verse. " They shall 
smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek .... There- 
fore will he give them up, until the time that she which 
travaileth hath brought forth ; then the remnant of his brethren 
shall return unto the children of Israel," 

Mark the term of their being given up by God — "until the 
time" of the birth. This shews that we are not to take the 
allusion to the birth of the man child as a literal reference to 
Christ's birth into the world, but rather in conjunction with the 
accomplishment of the purposes of God respecting Israel. Christ 
was born (Micah v. 2) : then comes His rejection, and, as it were 
measuring His rejection on earth and His exaltation in heaven, 
the calling of the church. But the prophecy here passes by all 
that has to do with the church and takes up Christ's birth figu- 
ratively, connecting it with the unfolding of the divine purposes, 
which is itself symboUzed by a birth. The Judge of Israel is 
smitten with a rod upon the cheek, and therefore Israel is given 
up until the time when, to use the language of Jeremiah, Jacob's 
trouble is come, but he shall be saved out of it. Here it is put 
figuratively, as Zion travailing till the birth of this great pur- 


pose of God touching Israel. " Then the remnant of his brethren 
shall return unto the children of Israel." All the time the church 
is being called, the remnant of the Jews (" those who should be 
saved ") are taken out of Israel, cease to look for Jewish hopes 
as their portion, and are absorbed into the church. But when 
God's earthly purpose begins to take effect in the latter day, the 
remnant of that time will form part of Israel and will resume 
their ancient Jewish place. The natural branches shall be graffed 
into their own olive-tree. 

Another scripture speaks of Zion's bringing forth ; but it is 
of a very different kind. In the last chapter of Isaiah the allu- 
sion is to a birth, but there it is said to be in one day. "A 
voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of 
Jehovah that rendereth recompence to his enemies. Before she 
travailed, she brought forth ; before her pain came, she was de- 
livered of a mail child. Who hath heard such a thing ? who hath 
seen such things ? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one 
day ? or shall a nation be born at once ? for as soon as Zion tra- 
vailed, she brought forth her children. Sliall I bring to the birth, 
and not cause to bring forth ? saith Jehovah : shall I cause to 
bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God. Kejoice ye with 
Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her." It is evi- 
dently not the time spoken of in Eev. xii. So that it is plain 
that there are three chief critical points connected with Israel's 
history. First, there is the birth of the Messiah ; secondly, the 
passage in Micah, the ripening and effect of God's counsels re- 
garding Israel, which is to be connected with liev. xii. where 
God brings out His purpose concerning Israel, before tlie beast 
and antichrist are shewn fully ; and, thirdly, this passage in 
Isaiah Ixvi. which is a sort of contrast with the others, the cir- 
cumstances mentioned being the express reverse of those that 
accompany natural birth and of the figure used in our chapter. 
The three passages may be put together thus : — first, Micah v. 
shews us the birth of Christ, and Israel given up till the result 
of God's counsels as to them shall appear by and by ; next, Rev. 
xii. unfolds the time of sorrow* just before the last tribulation, 

* Some, shrinking from the hypothesis thnt the ])irlh of Christ is hero alhulod 
to, as being at variance with the excluaively futuro bearing of the Apocalypso 


when Satan, losing his old seats, attempts new plans in order to 
frustrate God's design to bless and magnify Israel ; and then, 
lastly, Isaiah Ixvi. is the time when all sorrow is past, and when 
before Zion travailed she brought forth — Israel's full and sudden 
blessing after the Lord has appeared. All previous sorrow flees 
away by reason of the joy that fills the city of Zion, or is only 
remembered to enhance it. 

But now, going back to our chapter, we find that, besides the 
woman and the man child, there is another sign ; a great anta- 
gonist of God appears — not the beast, but a much more serious 
power — " a great red dragon." And there is this remarkable cir- 
cumstance — the same description which is applied to the beast 
is used of the dragon. How comes this ? That Satan is the great 
red dragon there can be no doubt ; this very chapter tells us so 
in verse 9 : and yet he is described with the various character- 
istics that we find in the Eoman empire (chap. xiii. 1), " having 
seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns." I 
believe the reason is, that Satan is viewed in connexion 'with 
earthly power. Just as the woman was seen invested with sym- 
bols of power from above which God has given her, so here Satan 
is clothed with the fulness of earthly authority. He has seven 
heads, the symbol of deliberative power, that which rules and 
guides, and ten horns, the symbol of kings or kingly dignities. 
He is the prince of the world, who surrounds himself with all 
power connected with the earth. The Eoman empire is the grand 
representative of the power of Satan. But when we look at that 
empire in chapter xiii. we see this difference. The ci^owns were 
upon the heads of the dragon, but upon the horns of the beast. 
That is, in the Eoman empire we have the exercise of the 
power represented as a matter of fact, but in Satan's case merely 
as a matter of principle or the root of the thing. Satan is the 
great moving spring, though unseen. It is a question of source 
and cliaracter, not of history. 

First, then, we have had the thought and plan of God in 
respect to Israel and Christ. And it is plain that it is the des- 

incline to the view that the parturition of the woman means, in symbol, the for- 
mation of Christ in the hearts of Israel, or a certain part of them, before the 
final crisis. (Compare Gal. iv. 19.) 


258 THE dragon's tail. 

tiuy of the man child, not as yet the exercise of His dominion 
over all the nations ; for if it were the latter, the woman would 
not have to flee to the wilderness, nor would the dragon be 
permitted to make war on her and the rest of her seed. To 
apply this historically is to entirely miss the teaching of God, 
who is here shewing out His purpose, and no more as yet. Then 
the dragon appears, the one that God looks at as the ruler of 
this world, the prince of the power of the air, clothed with the 
same symbols of earthly power as we find later on in the Roman 
empire, save that in this last the crowns are upon the horns, 
or those actually swayin^^^ the power. (Rev. xiii.) " And his tail 
draweth the third of the stars of heaven" (verse 4). This 
seems to be his malignant power in the way of false teaching 
and prophesying. In Isaiah ix. we are told that " the prophet 
that teacheth lies, he is the tail." The tail of the dragon does 
not set forth his earthly power, but his influence, through false 
teaching, in misleading souls, and specially those that were in 
the place of rule and authority — " the stars of heaven." " And 
the dragon stood before the woman that was about to bring forth, 
that when she brought forth he might devour her child." How 
wonderfully all scripture hangs together ! For if you begin with 
the very first portion of scripture that speaks of the serpent, the 
woman and that subtle foe are seen face to face ; and more than 
this, God appears on the scene where Satan had apparently 
gained a great triumph, and then it is that He gives the blessed 
revelation that " the seed of the woman should bruise the ser- 
pent 's head." Here, at the close of scripture, the same parties 
reappear, but with marked differences. In the garden of Eden 
it was the serpent's success, but here the certain triumph of God ; 
there it was the devil's craft, but here it is God's power, long 
displayed in patience, but all-glorious in the end. God permits 
the dragon to stand before the woman, ready to devour her child 
as soon as it was born. The dragon shews out his spite and 
wickedness to the last degree and in the next chapter his plans. 
Meanwhile, God turns even the suffering into more positive 
blessing for the faithful. The very certainty that He could crush 
the dragon gives Him patience to wait, and He wants His people 
to be like Himself. 


I would just observe that we must not take the chapter as if 
it were all consecutive. Verse 7 begins a new division. And a 
proof that all does not follow in immediate order is this ; the 
casting out of the dragon from heaven unto the earth precedes 
the woman's flight into the wilderness, and is in point of fact 
the reason of it (see verse 13), though only stated afterwards. 
The truth is, that the first six verses give us the complete 
picture. In the divine purpose, there is the woman clothed 
with the heavenly orbs, setting forth the power which God 
alone can confer. But there is another side of the picture. 
When the man child is brought forth, the mother is seen in 
weakness, and is obliged to fly for her life into the wilderness, 
where she had a place prepared of God.* God thinks so much 
of the time she spends there, that He does not call it " a time, 
times, and a half," but counts up, so to speak, every day she is 
there, "that they should feed her there a thousand, two hundred, 
and threescore days." Then comes a new scene in verse 7. 
It is no longer what takes place on earth, but in heaven, as it is 
to many a new thing, and startling. A war is intimated on 
high. How is that ? A war in heaven ? It is an easy thing to 
imagine the enemy of souls upon the earth, and a war with him 
there. But the war begins elsewhere. " And there was war in 
heaven ; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon ; and 
the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not ; neither 
was their place found any more in heaven." 

If the Bible is implicitly believed, its intimation is distinct 
that Satan has power to draw near, and to accuse the saints 
before God. People may be staggered, and say, it cannot be ; 
but it is better to be guided by the word of God than by the 
notions of men. The book of Job shews it ; 1 Kings xxii. also, 

• It is true that tig may be translated unto or towards, no less than into : to 
decide which is meant, we must carefully examine the nature of the case, and 
the context. But Luke ix. 56, 57, in no wise proves that the woman was fleeing 
merely towards the wilderness; because we have various occurrences related 
immediately after the evangelist says that they proceeded unto another village 
— occurrences expressly said to be while they were on their way. So with Acts 
viii. 25 ; xviii. 18, &c. The two wings of the great eagle convey the very 
reverse of a gradual movement thither. Nor does the parenthetic account of 
the war in heaven confirm the notion of progressive stages. 

s 2 


and perhaps Zech. iii. You may say that these are visions ; 
but we take the Epistle to the Ephesians, and there we are told 
by St. Paul that our conflict is not like that of Israel, who 
fought with the Canaanites. " For we wrestle not against flesh 
and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the 
rulers of the darkness of this world (or the world-rulers of this 
darkness), against spiritual [powers] of wickedness in heavenly 
places." Some use this verse in order to justify Christian 
persons resisting the powers of this world, in plain contradic- 
tion of Eom. xiii. and other passages. But the principalities 
and powers in high places, in Eph. vi. 12, do not mean men at 
all. They are evil spirits, in contrast with men. The conflict of 
Israel was with living men on earth, while that of Christians 
is with wicked spirits in heavenly places. Of course, Satan 
cannot draw near into the immediate presence of God, into that 
light wherein God dwells, which none can approach unto ; but 
he can draw near enough to accuse God's people before God 
Himself. The heavenly places here mean the heavens in general, 
and not merely what is called the third or highest heaven. As 
far as the lower heavens extend, Satan has access ; there can be 
no doubt that he is prince of the power of the air. 

Israel had to fight in order to acquire possession of their 
inheritance. The land was given to them in title, and before 
Moses was taken away from this life, the Lord Himself took 
him to the mountain-top, and shewed him all the land of Gilead 
unto Dan, &c., calling the districts by the names of the tribes of 
Israel, as if they had been already there. But in order to enjoy 
their possessions, they had to fight for them ; and so have we 
now. There is no such thing as enjoying the heavenly portion 
of the church without conflict with the enemy, and that is the 
reason why so many do not enjoy it. If the Christian does not 
enter his full heavenly portion here below, it is because he is 
occupied either with himself or with the world, or some 
other idol of the enemy, and then he cannot enjoy it. The 
great object of Satan is to hinder our enjoying, tasting, and 
living on our heavenly blessings in Christ; and in the same 
proportion that the world or tlie flesh is allowed, and so the door 
is left open to Satan to darken our eyes, we cannot see the 


goodly land. There must be victory over Satan before we can 
enter in. .The adversary has not merely power through men's 
lusts below, but specially in connexion with the heavenly places 
— power of hindering Christians from appreciating their portion 
here. But there is an end coming to that, though not witliout 
a struggle. God will put a stop to all Satan's means of access 
to heaven. 

There is a text, often found obscure, that I cannot but con- 
nect with this. In Hebrews ix. where the various applications 
of the death of Christ are spoken of, there is the following 
allusion to the heavenly places : " It was therefore necessary 
that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified 
with these ; but the heavenly things themselves with better 
sacrifices than these." One reason, I suppose, is because Satan 
was allowed so long to have access there as an accuser. God 
would long since have shewn His own sense of the defilement 
produced there by the foe, if it were not for the death of Christ. 
But as He bears with the rebellion of the world, so does He also 
with another rebellion, the audacity of Satan, who ventures to 
intrude himself even into His own presence, to carry the accu- 
sations of His people before Him. But let us not forget that if 
there be one who loves to accuse, there is another to intercede, 
the Advocate, who never slumbers nor sleeps. There may be 
the devil against tlie saints, but there is Christ fur them, who 
ever lives to make intercession. By and by God will not allow 
Satan any longer to taint the air of heaven. He is forcibly cast 
down thence, and has only power to deal with mankind in an 
earthly way. " Woe to the earth and to the sea ! for the devil 
is come down to you " (verse 12), &c. — that is, to those nations 
who are in a settled or in an unsettled condition. Satan is 
henceforth entirely prevented from usurping his higher place, 
as prince of the power of the air. The heavens will then be 
cleared of him and his angels, never to regain their place above. 
He may come out on the earth again for a little season, after he 
has been bound, but he will never more appear in heaven as the 
accuser of the brethren before God. The momentous difference 
in the ways of God with His people is very marked here. All 
through the present time the accuser has a place in heaven, but 


at the predicted epoch he is cast out, and his place is not found 
any more there. Now, you will observe tliat tliis naturally, 
not to say necessarily, supposes the removal of the church to 
heaven before the change takes place ; and for this reason, that 
if we suppose the church to be still on earth, when the devil 
and his angels are cast out of heaven, it would no longer be true 
of us that we wrestle with wicked spirits in heavenly places. 
Such will not be the condition of the saints, either during the 
millennium or in the great tribulation that precedes it. 

Three years and a half roll on their course, after Satan is 
cast down to the earth, during wliich the woman and her seed 
(that is, Israel) are the objects of his persecution. "And the great 
dragon was cast [out], the old serpent that is called the Devil 
and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world ; he was cast unto 
the earth, and his angels were cast [out] witli him. And I heard 
a loud voice in heaven saying. Now is come the salvation, and 
the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of 
his Christ : for the accuser of our brethren is cast [out] that 
accused them before our God day and night. And they over- 
came him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of 
tlie word of their testimony ; and they loved not their life unto 
death" (verses 9-11). "The blood of the Lamb ;" this was what 
kept their conscience good, and gave them confidence before 
God. Their conscience was purged by the blood of Christ, and, 
besides that, they had their testimony for God. He gave them 
the blood of the Lamb as well as the word of their testimony, 
and they overcame by both. The one cleansed them before God, 
the other they held before men. " Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, 
and ye that dwell in them." There are at this time dwellers 
in heaven, and they are to rejoice because Satan is cast down 
from heaven. The church is on high at the time of which John 
speaks ; the saint.s are already taken away from the earth. 
" And when the dragon saw tliat he was cast unto the earth, 
he persecuted the woman who brought forth the man child. 
And to the woman were given two wings of the great eagle, 
that she might Hy into the wilderness, into her place, where she 
i.s nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face 
of the seriuiiit" (verses 13, 14). 


Now, it is plain that this brings us back to verse 6. The 
important link given us in verses 7-13 was needed, and after 
that we have consecutive order. We are brought down to the 
fact of the dragon's persecuting the woman and her child, and 
the woman's flight into the desert ; and then the Spirit of God 
goes back to shew us the deeper reasons, and higher source of 
all. Satan will have to leave his place in heaven, and now in a 
rage, " knowing that he has but a short time," he comes down to 
the earth to do his worst. He hates the woman, well knowing 
her seed is to crush him ; so that all his long-cherished enmity 
is concentrated upon the woman and her seed. This is what 
leads the woman to flee into the wilderness. The enmity of 
Satan, not merely because she has brought forth a child destined 
to rule all nations with a rod of iron, but because Satan is cast 
down to earth. Satan was once innocent, but he departed from 
the place of a creature, admiring himself, and setting himself up 
against God. Now when Satan is cast down from heaven, he 
shews out all his evil feeling against God, by persecuting the 
woman and her seed. 

" To the woman were given two wings of the great eagle," &c. 
Observe the difference here (analogous to Eev. xi.), " where she 
is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time." In a former 
verse the time seems to be made, as it were, as long as possible, 
because, as I conceive, God's care for her was then the grand 
point. She had a place prepared for her of God, and when His 
care and preparation are in question, He lengthens out the time 
as much as possible; but where it is a question of the devil's 
power. He foreshortens it. It appears to be the same period, only 
put in a different way. * 

The serpent, so spoken of because of his subtle enmity, now 
adopts a new device. He "cast out of his mouth water as a 

* Dr. M'Causland {Latter Bays of Jerusalem and Rome, pp. 314, 326) conceives 
that the 1260 days, forty -two months or three and a half times, are but abstract 
indices of the indefinite period of the present dispensation during which the 
Jewish body continues, like its type Elijah, in the wilderness, unvisited by 
the dew of the Spirit. Primasius in early days contended for a somewhat 
similar view ; but while he thought that the dates were intended to include 
the period of the Christian dispensation, he also allowed their literal application 
to the final tribulation. 


flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried 
away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman," &c. 
(verse 15, 16.) This sets forth some providential means used of 
God to deliver His earthly people and purpose from the instru- 
ments of the enemy, then put into a state of great commotion. 
These last are represented by the waters issuing as a river from 
the dragon's mouth (people that are under the immediate influ- 
ence of the devil) ; while evidently the earth helping the woman 
means the more settled parts of the world, used providentially 
to resist the efforts of Satan to overwhelm the Jews. " The 
earth" in this book may have morally a guilty character ; but 
God can create a diversion where He sees fit, and so bring to 
nought that which is calculated to overwhelm His people. 

" And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went away 
to make war with the remnant of her seed, that keep the com- 
mandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus" (verse 17). 
It might be a difficulty to some that a Jewish remnant should 
have the testimony of Jesus. But if you have followed me in 
former chapters, it will not be insuperable ; because " the testi- 
mony of Jesus " in the book of Eevelation is always of Jesus 
coming back again as the Heir of the world, and not of His 
relations in full heavenly grace that we know now. The Jewish 
remnant will not enjoy the same communion with the Lord Jesus 
that the church actually possesses; but they will stand in faith, 
and they will have the testimony which Jesus is rendering in 
the Apocalypse. In chapter i. we read, "The revelation of Jesus 
Christ which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants 
things which must shortly come to pass," &c. It is, we have 
often seen, a certain revelation which God gave to Jesus, con- 
nected with events that were shortly to come to pass. This in 
the next verse is called " the word of God, and the testimony of 
Jesus Christ." So in Eev. xix. 10, " The testimony of Jesus is 
the spirit of prophecy," which shews clearly that it is a pro- 
phetic knowledge of Jesus. Thus the testimony rendered in this 
book, though equally divine, differs from the blessed way in 
which God unfolds Christ now to the church which is His body. 
The remnant will have such a knowledge as the saints in the 
Old Testament times possessed — greater probably in amount, 


but similar, it seems to me, in kind. They will be waiting for 
Jesus to come. They will say, with penitent hearts, "Blessed is 
he that cometh in the name of Jehovah." They will plead, 
" How long, Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and 
avenge our blood ? " I do not deny that they may have the New 
Testament before their eyes ; but there will be no power to 
apply the New Testament facts to their own souls, as far at 
least as present peace and communion are concerned. What a 
proof that not merely the word is required, but the Holy Ghost 
to open it out, for the rest and enjoyment of the soul ! 

Some of us, even as Christians, have had no light as to certain 
truths, until in the grace of God He was pleased to remove the 
film from our eyes. And God does this ordinarily by specific 
means ; for it is not His way to enable persons to take up the 
Bible and understand it, independently of His provision for the 
perfecting of the saints. God teaches His children, but in 
general it is through those He has given for the good of the 
church, and, though never tied down to that order. He does not 
set aside the wise and gracious arrangement that He has formed 
and will perpetuate as long as the church endures. Nourish- 
ment is ministered by joints and bands, and thus all the body 
knit together increases with the increase of God. What would 
enable us to do without one another is a thing that God never 
gives or sanctions. Supposing a person were cast upon a desert 
island, God would bless him in his solitary reading of the word 
with prayer ; but where there are other means and opportunities, 
such as assembling ourselves together for instruction, for reading 
the scriptures, for public preaching, exhortation, &c., to neglect 
or despise them is the will of man and not the guidance of the 
Spirit of God. 

These saints, like those of old, will fear Jehovah, and obey 
the voice of His servant, but withal must walk in darkness, and 
have no light, till the Lord returns in glory. Our place is 
identified with that of Christ Himself, risen and glorified. 
Compare Isa. 1. 8, 9, with Eom. viii. 33, 34, for the latter, and 
Isa. 1. 10, 11, for the former. Christians may not always 
act according to the light, but they walk in the light, as He is 
in the light. " He that followeth me," says our Lord, " shall 


not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." The 
remnant of that day will trust in the name of Jehovah, and 
stay upon their God ; but it will be after another sort. Thomas 
in John xx., as compared with the other disciples, may illustrate 

And now let us briefly notice the historical theory, as stated 
by one of the latest and ablest of its advocates. The woman 
is, of course, the Christian church, which is actually said to be 
not merely united as one, but morally bright and beautiful in 
the days of Constantine! ascendant for the first time in the 
political heaven; with the sunshine of the highest (Constantine) 
of the three imperial dignities, and the light of the second 
(Licinius) ; and with the chief bishops as a starry coronal, the 
heads, now imperially recognized, of the 8wS€Kd<f)vXov of the 
Christian Israel. (Horae Apoc, iii. pp. 17, 18.) Three pages 
after, the civil authorities are viewed as the moon, perhaps 
because of Licinius's apostacy and subsequent death. And the 
great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns is the old 
Eoman paganism, concentrated for the time in Maximin's pro- 
hibiting the Christian assemblies, and even killing their bishops 
in his third of the empire. Again, Constantine reappears as the 
man child — a baptised (?) emperor, the son of Christ's faithful 
church, elevated over the whole empire to an avowedly Christian 
throne, that might be called the tlirone of God like Solomon's. 
And the ruling with an iron rod means tlie discountenance of 
pagans increasing almost to oppression, till at length, under 
Theodosius, all toleration ended, and their worship was inter- 
dicted under the severest penalties. But Mr. E., apparently not 
quite satisfied with this exposition, offers us the alternative of 
Mr. Biley, who thinks that the question here was one' of funda- 
mental orthodoxy, rather than of political eminence, and that the 
birth and exaltation of the man child refer to the solenni public 
profession of Christ's divinity, and its dogmatic establishment in 
the general Council of Nice. 

Where is one to begin, where end, in unravelling tliis tangled 
web ? Almost the only thing consistent is the melancholy result 
(God forbid that I should say intention) of degrading the living 
word of God. If something like the real ]ioint of tlie chapter is 


glanced at, it is to discard it summarily. Thus, it was too plain 
to be quite overlooked, that Christ is destined to rule all nations 
with a rod of iron (Psalm ii.), and that this is made part of the 
promises to the Christians who overcome. (Kev. ii.) But all such 
reference Mr. E. considers excluded by the context. For, argues 
he, the woman is shewn immediately after to be persecuted by 
the dragon, and then to spend 1260 days in the wilderness. But 
how does this set aside the other — the figure of Christ, take it 
personally or mystically, as the destined governor of all the 
nations? On this view, what can be clearer? The woman is 
Israel, first seen in heaven in the glorious purpose of God, and 
hence arrayed with that supreme power which is to rule the day, 
with the moon — which, from the context, may here be a symbol 
of legal ordinances — under her feet, and with the perfection of 
administrative authority as her crown of glory. It is not a 
question of historical fact, but of divine counsels. Accordingly, 
in spite of such a view on God's part, the woman is seen the 
object of Satan's enmity in the Koman empire, who, foiled in 
his wishes against the raptured Man of might, directs his efforts 
against the woman, or Israel, fled into the wilderness, desolate 
but preserved of God for her destined time of sorrow. I do not 
deny here, more than elsewhere, a vague analogy to the imperial 
overthrow of the power of the enemy in idolatry. All I insist on 
is, that the past accomplishment in no wise meets all the features 
of the case, and that the system which sees nothing else really 
makes God Himself the author of that judaizing of the church 
which, kept in check by the apostolic power, soon became doc- 
trinally rampant in the writings of the early fathers, and from 
the time of Constantino was the established mould in which the 
Christian profession was cast. Hence, historically, the date does 
not at all answer, Mr. E. seems to be shy of defining the 1260 
years of the woman's place in the wilderness. He considers the 
time soon after Constantine when the true orthodox church be- 
came insulated, invisible in respect of its public worship, and 
more and more straitened for spiritual sustenance : the latter a 
most unusual effect of persecution ; the former an unaccountable 
result, if the eldest son of the true church had the chief power 
in the empire, and the old paganism of Eome shewed itself — 


not in a thousand years and more of persecution, but — in the 
mere transient efforts of Maximin and Licinius first, and of 
Julian somewhat later. 

And if heathenism and Arianism are strangely put together 
to make out the war of the dragon and his angels in heaven, 
what can serious Christians think of the notion that Eusebius's 
extravagant flattery of Constantine, and the unwarranted joy 
and expectations of the dominant party of that day, are the 
exact echo of the prefigurative voice heard saying, " Now hath 
come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our 
God, and the authority of his Christ?" Certainly I do not 
wonder that the eye which can see in Zech, iii. compared with 
Ezra iv. a reference to the accusation of the Jews before the 
Persian king's court by their Samaritan foes, should read the 
fulfilment of " Eejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them," 
in the imperial edict which proclaimed liberty to those who had 
been enslaved or condemned to the mines. {Horae Apoc, vol. 
iii. pp. 29-32.) Of similar character is the criticism, borrowed 
from Daubuz, that the use of the uncommon plural from hea- 
vens, instead of heaven, indicates the then union of elevation 
in heart to the spiritual heaven, and elevation and dignity to 
the heaven of worldly rank. 

Then again, when we turn from the parenthetic heavenly 
war, and its consequences (verses 7-12) to tlie dragon's doings 
on earth, we are told that the two wings of the great eagle were 
fulfilled in Theodosius the Great, whose lot it was to unite the 
Eastern and Western divisions of the empire under his own 
sway, and use all his power as a protector and nursing father to 
the orthodox church. Under these wings Augustine's ministry is 
said not only to have furnished present food, but nourishment 
for its long long sojourn in the wilderness. How the dragon, or 
old Roman pagan power, should now have the seven heads and 
ten horns, from Constantino to Theodosius, does not appear. 
It is to the historicalist an obviously insuperable difficulty, as 
to which I see not a word of explanation, even in tlie most 
voluminous commentary that defends the view. And supposing, 
e.g., that Tiieodosius could be the sun, the male child, and the 
great eagle's wings all at once, it is hard to connect the dragon 


with the governing power of the Eoman empire in that day. 
Does "the pagan remnant" answer to the persecuting dragon, 
as our chapter describes him ? I do not wonder also that it is 
found convenient to combine all possible ideas of the flood from 
the serpent's mouth, and to make that a mixture of foreign 
invaders and heresies, of physical force and doctrinal error, 
employed to overwhelm the true church, so as to pass off a 
hazy application to the hordes of Goths, Vandals, &c., who 
inundated the empire after the death of Theodosius. But " the 
earth helped the woman," i.e., according to Mr. E., the Eoman 
population, superstitious and earthly as they are confessed to 
have been, did service to Christ's church ; and in their bloody 
M'ars the barbarians were so thinned, that their incorporation 
with the conquered followed, and their religion passed through 
Arianism into orthodoxy. The flood was thus swallowed up ! 
Tf some very few stood forth as witnesses, like Vigilantius, &c., 
against such the dragon proceeded to plot, and so procure their 
destruction. To state the scheme is in my judgment a sufficient 

On the other hand, the fulfilment in the crisis is sufficiently 
intelligible, whatever measure of partial resemblance there may 
have been in past events. The seventh trumpet has brought us 
down in a general way to the very end. From Eev. xi. 19 we 
begin an entirely new subject, of which that verse is as it were 
the preface. The ark of His covenant is seen in His temple 
above : it is not yet the actual bringing of the house of Israel 
and the house of Judah under the efficacy of the new coveliant, 
but it is its pledge. The sources of all, whether on God's part 
or the enemy's, are disclosed ; and hence, as there confessedly is 
retrogression, so I think there is nothing harsh in the supposition 
that the birth and rapture to heaven of Israel's Messiah may be 
shewn, the special object of Satan's hatred, and the occasion of 
his intensest and ever-increasing hatred to the Jews and to 
God's counsels about tliem. I can also understand that the 
rapture of the man child may include that of the church — like 
a binary star, the two-foldness of which appears on adequate 
inspection. It is thus in the Old Testament that we find the 
church involved, so to speak, in Christ. The first great act of 


our Lord's kingdom will be, I believe, the dejection of Satan 
and the wicked spirits, from the heavenly places (cf. Eph. vi. 
12, and Eev. xii. 7-12). On earth the question of Israel, God's 
chosen people, is raised at once ; and whether as dragon or 
serpent, all his resources are put in requisition against God's 
purpose in that people (yet in abeyance), and against the godly 
remnant who have the testimony (prophetically, I conceive) of 
Jesus, as the man of God's right hand, the Son of man whom 
He made strong for Himself. The development of his plans we 
shall find in the chapter which follows. 



We have seen that chapter xii. goes back as well as forward, 
and connects the purpose of God which is to be brought out in 
tlie latter day with the Messiah and even with His birth. Thus, 
while the Lord Jesus Christ is to my mind clearly referred to 
as the man child, yet it is not His birth merely or historically, 
but His birth as it is linked with this future plan of God, which 
the book reveals here. The moment Christ is thus referred to 
(that is, Christ evidently viewed as the Head, not of the church, 
but of Israel ruling " all nations with a rod of iron," and taking 
the government of the world into His own hands), Satan appears 
in personal opposition. It is no other than might be looked for ; 
for God Himself had said in the garden of Eden, that He would 
put enmity between the serpent and the woman, between his 
seed and her seed. This was revealed at the beginning, and here 
we have it fulfilled at the very close. "Without telling us the 
least about His humiliation, the man child was caught up to 
God and to His throne. Thus it is clear that it is not a bare 
statement of the Lord's life, but such facts are referred to — the 
two great cardinal ones of His birth and of His rapture to the 
presence and throne of God — in order to furnish connecting 
links with what God has to do by and by with Israel. All the 
intermediate workings of God in the church are left entirely 
out, except as we may suppose the church to be involved in the 
destiny of the man child, who is now hid with God, but is yet to 
reign. Just as what is said about Christ in the Old Testament 
is applied to the church or the Christian in the New Testament; 
but still, most true and blessed as that is, it is an indirect use. 
Here then we have the Messiah in relation to the future purpose 
of God as regards Israel. 


Then follows the vision of a war in heaven. Not the Lord 
Jesus Christ, but angelic power is seen used of God to put down 
the rebel angels, Satan and his host. And from that moment 
Satan loses his power above (that is to say, the most important 
part of it, the most serious in itself, the most dishonouring to 
God, the most dangerous to the people of God) — his power in 
heavenly places, which is referred to in Ephesians vi. and other 
passages. Accordingly, when Satan loses that place, there is joy 
in heaven, and a voice proclaims tliat " Now is come salvation, 
and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of 
his Christ." But yet, as far as the earth was concerned, the king- 
dom was not actually come : only Satan had lost liis place above. 

So we find a little answering to this, that our Lord alludes to 
Satan's fall from heaven in the gospel of Luke ; and I notice 
it because some have thence supposed that Satan had been ex- 
pelled from the heavens long ago. It is in chap, x., when the 
disciples return to the Lord, full of joy because the devils even 
were subject to them. The answer is that He "beheld Satan, 
as lightning, fall from heaven." Now a person might set the 
words in the evangelist against the fall of Satan that is described 
in the Apocalypse as still future. But evidently this would be a 
misuse of scripture. We may always rest assured that the Bible 
agrees with itself It is ignorance and unbelief to set one part 
of God's word against another. To an unbiassed mind, I think, 
it is certain that the fall of Satan in the prophecy is described 
as a prospective event, which is to take place three years and a 
half (however that may be taken) before the destruction of the 
beast and the binding of Satan himself Consequently it is a 
fall that in St. John's time at least was yet future. The imme- 
diate effect was to be a dreadful persecution against the woman 
and her seed. Again, I have endeavoured to set forth a variety 
of considerations, from which it is clear to me that before this 
event the church must have been taken to heaven. Such the 
reader will remember has been the uniform deduction I have 
drawn all through our former chapters (iv.-vi.) ; so that the fall 
of Satan, intimated here, must be an event subsequent to the 
removal of the gloritied saints to heaven. What then does the 
Lord Jesus Christ mean when He says, " I beheld Satan, as 


lightning, fall from heaven?" Wlien He sees and hears the 
effects of the disciples' service in His name, then the vision of 
Satan's catastrophe passes before His eyes, and the full con- 
sequences of PTis power are hailed in the then earnest of it. 
He looks on to the final crisis and the downfall of the Evil 
One, when the disciples announced so notable a sample of " the 
powers of the world to come." It was the first great blow struck 
by men at Satan's power ; and therefore He anticipates the end 
from the beginning, and, so to speak, in a sort of musing, con- 
templative vision, He beheld the adversary fall from the highest 
scene of his usurpation. 

Nor is this an uncommon thing in scripture. In another gos- 
pel, when the Greeks come up to the feast desiring to see Jesus, 
what does He say ? " The hour is come that the Son of man 
should be glorified." He was going to the cross and to death ; 
yet He declares that the hour was come that He should be 
glorified. How was this? If you take it in a mere literal 
way, it seems to me that the force of the passage is lost. Jesus 
sees in the Greeks that were before Him a sample of the in- 
gathering of the Gentiles ; and the Lord perfectly well knew 
that the only thing that would draw the Gentiles must be His 
own cross and His glory in heaven. So that He looks through 
all the intervening scene that was before Him, for He had to 
accomplish redemption and to ascend on high. But from this 
little sample He connects all with His glorification, and speaks 
of it as of a present fact. 

. Again when Judas goes out, and the Lord Jesus Christ re- 
peats similar words, it is, I presume, on the same principle. 
(John xiii. 31.) 

Is not Eev. v. 13 analogous? A remarkable movement was 
seen in tlie vision affecting the universe, when the sealed book 
was taken in hand by the Lamb. It is not merely that we had 
the living creatures prostrate, and the elders taking up the new 
song, and the myriads of angels with their loud voice of praise ; 
but there is a chorus in which the whole creation joined. "And 
every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under 
the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in tliem, 
heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be 



unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for 
ever and ever." It was like striking a key-note that would 
never cease to vibrate, till the remotest bounds of creation would 
be filled with the glory of God and the Lamb. But the time of 
full blessing was here anticipated ; it was in fact the Lamb's 
receiving the book of the inheritance which called forth these 
overflowings of worship and joy. After this followed the open- 
ing of the seals, which was but the prelude of the latter-day 
judgments ; and these would go on increasing in severity till 
Christ Himself comes executing wrath, (liev. xix.) Not till then 
would the glory appear, and these anticipations be realised. 
(Chapters xxi. xxii.) From the first event, however, that was a 
link in the chain, the end is welcomed. This is the mind of 

And so it is in Luke x. The Lord does not there refer to 
Satan's fall as a fact actually accomplished then ; but He looks 
on through what was true at that time to his future and more com- 
plete humiliation, which we see here. And even this fall of Satan 
is by no means the last exertion of the power of God against 
the enemy. For until then Satan had scarcely been touched, 
save to faith. It is true that in the cross of Christ he had been 
judged in principle (John xii. 31) ; but, as a literal fact, he was 
not yet shaken from his tlirone of the world. Doubtless, in the 
cross, the great work of God in virtue of which he is to be cast 
out from heaven was accomplished, so that it only remains a 
question of time and of the will of God. And first of all, he 
loses the heavenly part of the power which he has usurped. 
Then he conies down to the earth in a rage, knowing that he has 
but a short time. This brings us to chapter xiii. ; for there vv^e 
get the detail of the doings of Satan here below, i.e., upon the 
sea and the earth (the sea, as we have before seen, symbolizing 
what was not under regular government, and the earth that part 
of the world which enjoys a state of order). The two together 
make up the world as a whole, or a given sphere of it, under 
whatever condition. 

The prophet,* it is said, was set or stood upon the sand of the 

* The reiidor ahould know that this is one of the most contested readings in 
the book. The difl'crenco in Greek is but a letter more or less ; but in the one 


sea. In a later portion (chapter xvii.) he is carried in the Spirit 
into the wilderness ; and afterwards (chapter xxi.) to a great 
and high mountain. Here, as everywhere, all is in keeping 
with the scene. " I stood upon the sand of the sea." The 
reason is manifest. John is about to see a great beast emerging 
out of the sea, and accordingly he takes in the vision a suited 
place. "And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea." You 
must remember that all these visions were like a great panorama 
that passed before the eye of the prophet. What the meaning 
of the symbols used is, we have to find out by the teaching of 
the Holy Spirit. The sea sets forth the unformed mass of the 
people under a troubled state of the world — people in great 
agitation, like the restless waves of the deep. It is that which 
represents a revolutionary condition among men. And it is out 
of that mass of anarchy and confusion that an imperial power 
rises. This power is called "the beast." The same thing ap- 
pears in Dan. vii. ; but with this difference. The Jewish prophet 
sees successively four beasts emerge from the sea ; not one 
merely, as we have in the beginning of Eev. xiii. There was 
the first beast like a lion, the second like a bear, the third like a 
leopard, and a fourth beast of a peculiar kind. And then, 
before the explanation is given, one in the form of a son of 
man comes with the clouds of heaven, in contrast with the 
powers that came up from a tumultuous sea. It was a kingdom 
heavenly in its source, and a king who was to use the power of 
God which is to be established over the earth in the person of 
the Lord as Son of man, instead of being left in God's sove- 
reignty to those successive and ferocious beasts. The rising of 
the beasts out of the sea, upon which the four winds of heaven 
strove, portrays probably the vast commotion of peoples that 

case John is meant, in the other the dragon. The Alexandi-ian, Paris, and 
Porphyrian uncials, with the Middlehill and Montfort MSS., are confirmed hy 
most of the ancient versions and two old Latin commentators in the latter sense ; 
and aU other known MSS., including the Sinai and Vatican uncials, with the 
Coptic, &c., and the G-reek commentators, give the former. Modern editors and 
commentators are not less divided. The comparison of our text with Rev. x. 
5-10 will perhaps suffice to shew that there is no internal incongruity in assign- 
ing such a position to John. Dan. x. 4, 5, xii. 5, ought to be borne in mind. 
On the other hand, if it be " he stood," I do not see that it attributes providen- 
tial power to Satan, which would be very objectionable. 

T 2 


preceded the formation of the four great empires. And it is an 
interesting fact, that the foundations of those states which after- 
wards became possessed of the imperial power were all laid 
about the same time. They emerged from obscurity and political 
chaos pretty nearly together. God in His sovereignty gave 
power to each in succession. First, there was the Babylonian, 
then the Medo -Persian, then the Greek or jMacedonian, and 
lastly the Roman. 

In this case John sees but one beast rise. The sea sets forth 
a troubled state of nations, and the fourth and last beast men- 
tioned by Daniel is seen by the prophet coming out of it. The 
first three beasts had had their day, and they were gone. The 
fourth or Eoman empire had followed, and was then in being 
and power. It was the authority of the Roman beast, which 
had at this very time cast John into Patmos. It seems to be 
its final rise, previous to its destruction which John sees here, 
but what was to take place between its first appearance as an 
empire and this reappearance is not yet described. There can 
be no doubt, from the description given, that it is the Roman 
empire. It is said to have "seven heads and ten horns, and 
upon his horns ten crowns ; " the same things that we saw in 
Satan (chapter xii. 3), where he was regarded as the possessor 
of the power of the world, and specially that of Rome. We 
all may remember how he said to the Lord Jesus, when shewing 
Him all the kingdoms of the world, " All this power will I give 
thee, and the glory of them ; for this is delivered unto me, and 
to whomsoever I will I give it." Now here he gives it to the 
Roman beast. Satan was, of course, an usurper ; but still he 
was the prince of the world in fact, and as such he has seven 
heads and ten horns. Tint as Satan, he does not present him- 
self openly before men. He must have some representative or 
agent. He must disguise himself, and work through another, 
and take a human form and instrunu'iitality ; even as God was 
pleased to do the same to accomplisli lli.s blessed purposes of 
grace. And so does Satan — awful counterpart in malice of 
(iod's goodness in Christ ! The agent described, through whom 
he works, is the Roman ('mi)ire in its last phase. He took 
advantage of men's lust for power, because that which is the 


object of ambition in the world is power. And here you have a 
vast imperial power, which was at first owned of God. As far as 
rising out of the sea was concerned, God could still have owned 
it ; but when it is said to arise out of the bottomless pit, the 
source is in no way providential, but expressly of the enemy. 

But besides these seven heads and ten horns, there were upon 
the latter ten crowns. Let me just say that I have no doubt 
the ten horns ought to be mentioned before the heads : " having 
ten horns and seven heads, and upon his horns ten crowns, and 
upon his heads names of blasphemy " (verse 1). Not that one 
would attach undue importance to the order, save that we ought 
always to be right ; but the two clauses of the verse agree in 
putting the horns first, perhaps because the beast is regarded 
here as having these powers in actual exercise, whereas Satan 
had them virtually only. Blasphemy, not mere heathenism, 
characterizes his heads. 

" And the beast which I saw was like a leopard." This was 
the general resemblance of its body, and it refers to the 
Macedonian empire, so notoriously marked by its swiftness of 
conquest. " His feet were as the feet of a bear," which refers 
to the Persian, and imj)lies great tenacity of grasp ; " and his 
mouth as the mouth of a lion," denoting its voraciousness, as in 
Nebuchadnezzar's career and kingdom. Thus the Eoman empire, 
in its last stage at least, would unite in itself the several 
characteristics of the former empires. And indeed such was 
the ordinary policy of the Romans. They did not interfere with 
what they found in the various nations they conquered. They 
endeavoured to incorporate into their own system whatever had 
helped on the power of those nations. They did not force their 
own customs upon others, but cultivated whatever they found 
advantageous, and turned it to their own use. So this beast, as 
we see here, was made up of the diverse qualities of power that 
had given weight to its imperial predecessors. 

But there is one remarkable difference from all of them, and 
even from its own original condition. " The dragon gave him 
his power, and his throne, and great authority " (verse 2). This 
notable distinction is subsequent to Satan's fall from heaven. 
He wants to liave a medium for acting universally upon men. 


in the centre of the workVs civilization and activity, for the 
short time that he is allowed to do as he pleases on earth. 
Accordingly, to the Roman beast which had imperial authority 
providentially from God he gives his own peculiar di-agon power. 
This is a thing that has never yet been seen on the earth in the 
full sense of the word — this union of the imperial authority 
\vith the positive impartation of Satanic energy. But the pro- 
phet sees more than this connected with the beast's investiture 
by the dragon. " And [I saw] one of his lieads as it were 
slain to death ; and his deadly wound was healed : and the 
whole earth wondered after the beast" (verse 3). I am inclined 
to think that the wounded head was the imperial form of 
government. (Comp. chap. xvii. 10.) The heads that were, as 
we have seen, connected with the dragon (chap. xii. 3) as well 
as with the beast, represent the different forms of power which 
had existed successively. Of these one was to be lost, as it 
were wounded to death, but at this time was to be revived 
ap^ain through Satanic agency. All the world is surprised, and 
no wonder. They will be seized with extreme astonishment at 
the revival of the Roman empire, with more than its ancient 

And now% if we look at Daniel, we find a remarkable fact 
introduced there, connected with its divided state at the close, 
and of course also with its previous divisions after it had ceased 
to exist as an empire. The image in Dan. ii. has got feet, " part 
of iron and part of clay." There is weakness consequently. 
That metal represents the original Roman element in its strength, 
while the clay was a foreign ingredient, wliich brouglit in weak- 
ness wlien it souglit to ccjalesce with tlie iron.* "And whereas 
thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle 
themselves with the seed of men ; but they shall not cleave 
one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay" (verse 
43). This exactly accounts for the state of things found in 
Western Europe. The history of this part of the world was 

* Dr. M'Causlmid {Latter Daijs of Jcrusal<m and Home, pp. 336, 3o.'{) inter- 
prets tho miry day of the spiiitujil power exercised by the Pai)af'y, ami the iron 
of tho temporal power of Home ; but this i.s, for obvious and conclusive reasons 
to my mind, wholly untennldo. 


completely changed by the inroads of the barbarians about the 
fifth century after Christ. There was a time when one vast 
consolidated power had universal and undisputed sway — the 
iron power of Rome. But at the epoch named swarms of 
barbarians, near about the same time and from the north and 
east, came down on the empire and assailed it at almost every 
point. It fell. But mighty as these barbarians were in over- 
throwing, they could only establish little separate kingdoms ; 
and since then no hand has been able to gather up the broken 
fragments and put them firml}'- together again. It has not been 
for want of the disposition to do so ; for, on the contrary, all 
sorts of expedients have been tried — sometimes the sword, 
sometimes policy, sometimes intermarriage — but in vain. And 
thus it has remained under the providence of God. There has 
been no unity, so that the prevailing and favourite expression of 
modern policy has been and is " the balance of power." It 
means really keeping a respectable distance among the scattered 
members of what was once a united body. Mutual jealousies 
and the spirit of independence in each have ever effectually 
hindered re-union. The ordinary aim has been, by the formation 
of parties among the powers, to check and prevent the prepon- 
derance of any one. 

But though that wound seemed to be unto death, it was 
healed notwithstanding. "I saw one of his heads as it were 
w^ounded to death ; and his deadly wound was healed." That 
is, at the period of which the vision speaks, the Eoman power 
is to be consolidated afresh : not as formerly, with God's good 
hand over it and controlling all, whatever might have been the 
ways of individual emperors ; but all is abandoned to the will 
of the beast as the immediate instrument of Satan. Satan can 
no longer accuse the saints before God, but now he is at work 
on the earth to produce open blasphemy against God. And 
this is first done by means of political influence. There is 
the Eoman empire reorganised, and the imperial power revived, 
and a head over it that gathers everything under his own 
control, so that all the world wonders after the beast to whom 
the dragon had given his power, and throne, and great authority. 
In the next verse we have not merely this ; but " they worship- 


ped the beast saying, Who is like the beast ? and who is able 
to make war with him ?" (verse 4.) 

What a fickle thing is man ! No doubt, just before there had 
been a state of anarchy and confusion, and thence the beast 
arose and l)ecomes an object of wonder and worship to men 
weary of all their previous turmoil, and strife, and insecurity. 
Something like it was seen in a neighbouring country. Men 
were convulsed by a revolution which tore up all the landmarks 
and filled their minds with anxiety and restlessness. And what 
came out of that ? A strong hand takes the reins, a military 
despotism, a quasi-imperial power. And what was enacted on 
a small scale, because in one country only, will prevail in all 
the western powers of Europe. So that instead of men having 
things to themselves, some vigorous chief will take the rule ; 
but it will not be the hand of man merely, but the dragon's 
power. God will permit him to have his own way ; and so for 
a short time he is allowed to do his very worst. Then, besides 
distinct governments and rulers, each over his own country, 
there will be an imperial unity under one great head, who will 
wield their power and preside over all. Thus will be accom- 
plished those desires of men that have hitherto proved but idle 
dreams, or at most abortive efforts. 

There is a passage in an early epistle I would briefly notice, 
w^hich refers to what has hindered, and hinders still, the develop- 
ment of this and other allied wickedness. It is in 2 Thess. ii. 
6, 7 : " And now ye know what withholdeth, that he might be 
revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness doth 
already work : only there is one who now letteth until he be 
taken out of the way. And then shall the lawless one be 
revealed," &c. There is a restraint that God puts upon the law- 
lessness of the world ; and I conceive the Holy Ghost who acts 
here below is the One spoken of here as "lie who now letteth" 
or hindereth. Still, after the church has been taken away, God 
will carry on a testimony, though of another sort, and Satan 
will be kept in check for a season at least. This restraint will 
be maintained l)y the operation of the Holy Ghost in a pro- 
vidential way. When this dealing of God ceases, the Holy 
Ghost will no lo!iger " h't," as the seven Spirits of God sent 


forth into all the earth ; that is, the power which the Holy 
Ghost exerts over the world, and not merely in the church, will 
no longer be put forth as now to keep Satan under. " He who 
now letteth" will "be taken out of the way." People do not 
know how much they owe to this restraint of Satan from doing 
his worst. But the time will come when God will cease to 
hinder ; and then Satan will for a season carry all before him 
on the earth. He raises up a person as head, and men are 
charmed with the grandeur of his energy, exercised as it will 
be without conscience towards God — charmed with the com- 
parative ease that will result from having one person supreme 
over all. In short, they will have in many ways what is suited 
to meet the idolatry and pride of the heart. For men are, like 
children, constantly disappointed with their own schemes and 
even successes. Besides, having refused the love of the truth, 
they will readily fall into whatever snare Satan may put before 
them. So that, after a previous storm of revolutions, they will 
gladly fall down and worship the beast and the dragon that 
gave him his power. But further, the worship of the beast in 
the day that is coming will be of a different character from 
common idolatry. They will not merely be adorers of him, 
along with gods many and lords many, as the heathen of old. 
There will be an utter denial of any god above the one who is 
adored as such on earth. This miserable being whom Satan fills 
will be the object of their worship ; and the dragon shares it. 

"And there was given unto liim a mouth speaking great 
things and blasphemy : and power was given unto him to prac- 
tise [or continue]* forty-two months " (verse 5). Nobody doubts, 

* Grammatically speaking the authorised version is good here. Compare Acts 
XV. 33 ; xviii. 23 ; xx. 3. The Hebraistic absolute sense is according to the 
analogy of Dan. viii. 12, 24, and xi. passim. Bengel, Griesbach, and others, 
doubted as to the word in any sense, and considered it probably an interpolation 
from verse 7- I believe, on the contrary, that the peculiarity of the expression, 
to those that did not bear in mind the phraseology of Daniel, led some of the 
scribes to insert iroXifiov before or after wotijcrat, as B, most MSS. (14 iroXefi^ffai) 
and led other authorities, as the Armenian version, Irenaeus, &c., to omit iroitjaai. 
Dionysius Alex. (ap. Euseb.) has Kal ixrjvee. On the whole I conceive that Eras- 
mus and R. Stephens rightly read Trot jjtrai, and that the Complutensian editors and 
the Elzivers wrongly admitted TroXf fiov. The true sense appears to be to practise, 
work, act, or do, rather than merely "continue." The ancient versions are 


I suppose, that this is connected with Dan. vii. The same kind 
of language is heard applying to and for tlie same time. If we 
examine that chapter, some of the thoughts I have uttered will 
be found to be confirmed. It is said (Dan. vii. 7) that the fourth 
beast differs from all its predecessors. " It had ten horns. I 
considered the horns, and, behold, there came up another little 
horn" (verse 8). There is nothing of this in the Eevelation. 
Tlie little horn, at least as such, is not mentioned there. But this 
is not all. Before him " were three of the first horns plucked up 
by the roots." He takes possession of the territory of three of 
the horns, so that but seven remain out of the ten. " In this 
horn were eyes like the eyes of man," — the symbol of intelli- 
gence, " and a mouth speaking gi'eat things," — the utterance of 
pride and blasphemy against God. (Compare verse 25.) This 
is what brings on judgment from God — not of course the white- 
throne judgment of the dead, but the judgment of the quick, 
and of the habitable world. And so it is written in the 
eleventh verse: "I beheld, then, because of the voice of the great 
words which the horn spake ; I beheld even till the beast was 
slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame." 
Now observe that there is this difference between Daniel's pro- 
phecy and John's — what Daniel says about the little liorii John 
says about the beast. (Compare Rev. xiii. 5, 6, with Dan. vii. 8, 
25.) The reason is this : John gives us the character or prin- 
ciple, and Daniel the detail of historical facts. The fact was to 
be, that in the lioman empire there should arise ten kings, 
three* of whom disappear before the force or fraud of another 

sinfjuliirly vaj^iio, but to my mind they indicate action more or less energetic or 
specific, and not bare continuance ; and so, it seems to mo, the great majority of 
the best modern translators. Dr. Jl'Cansland (pp. 300, 3G1) prefers "to make 
forty-two months," i.e., to drive out the Jew into the -wildomess for that period. 
This may bo a " literal " version ; but I cannot commend its " propriety." Is it 
not plain that the actiug of the boast is in contradistinction to his speaking? Ho 
blasphemes God in every possible way, Ilis name, Tlis tabernacle, and those that 
dwell in heaven ; and more than this, license is given him to carry all out prac- 
tically for forty-two months. 

• Even I\Ir. E. gives up the popular notion, sanctioned by Sir Isaac Newton, 
Bishop Newton, «S.'C., that this was fulfilled in the subjection of Home, part of 
Lombardy, and Ilavenna, to the Pope. But is his own theory much bettor? 
How can the destruction of the Vandals in Corsica and Sardinia, or of the 


kinpf, the little horn — a power obscure in its first origin, but 
acquiring actual possession of three kingdoms, and then becom- 
ing the real director of all the rest. In the Revelation (where 
of course it is assumed that what had been disclosed in Daniel 
is already known), the Holy Ghost does not go back to the 
historical details, but speaks as if the emperor and the empire 
were one. 

We are bound to acknowledge " the powers that be ;" but when 
Satan has given the beast his authority, it is another thing 
altogether: we owe no allegiance to Satan. In point of fact, he 
is the one who leads on the beast into all his own depths and 
heiglits of sin. For the beast " opened Ids mouth in blasphemy 
against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, [and]* 
them that dwell in heaven" (verse 6). The Roman empire is the 
chariot, so to speak, in which tliis furious rider is driving. 

But let us look further at Daniel vii. " I beheld, and the same 
horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them 
(verse 21). . . . And he shall speak great words against the 
Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the high [places], 
and shall think to cliange times and laws : and they shall be 
given into his hands until a time, and times, and the dividing 
of times." It is the same period of forty-two months that we 
have here in Rev. xiii. : — "a time," which means a year; "and 
times," two years ; " and the dividing of time," half a year. I 
have no question tliat it is the person referred to in Daniel, 
under the name of the little horn, wlio here appears under that 

Ostrogoths in Italy by Justinian's general Belisarius, and of the Lombards long 
after by Pepin and Charlemagne, answer to the little horn's sdbduing three 
kings ? Even of this petty territory, which is so strangely exaggerated into three 
kingdoms, the Pope has long possessed but a portion : if all the parts remained, 
they would scarce make one real kingdom. The little horn, on the contrary, con- 
quers for himself, and becomes pre-eminently great. 

* It is not correct to say, with the author of the Ilorae Apocalypticae, that the 
conjunction is wanting in all the critical editions, for Griesbach, Knapp, Scholz, 
Tischcndorf, &c., retain it with the Vatican, Porphyrian, and uncials, a good 
many MSS., and almost all the ancient versions, save the Syriac. Still there is 
grave authority (N A C, twenty-eight cursives, &c.) against /cat, which is there- 
fore dropped by some excellent editors, as Matthaei, Lachmann, &c. I have, 
accordingly, thought it right to bracket the word, though my opinion is in 
favour of receiving it. 


of the beast. There he is the " horn," because Daniel gives us 
the gradual succession of the history, and adds the special 
Jewish part, the gift of times and laws into his hand ; here, 
because he is viewed as having all the power and authority of 
the imperial system, he is called " the beast." lie opens his 
mouth " in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name and 
His tabernacle, and them that tabernacle in heaven." For this 
was the great object of Satan, who iises the beast as his mouth- 
piece. It w^as from heaven he had been cast out ; and God in 
heaven, and those whom He calls into relationship with Himself 
there are peculiarly odious to Satan and to this self-exalting 
beast. "They that dwell in heaven" are unbearable to them. 
There is no one thing that stirs the world even now so much as 
this. It does not always dislike godliness when connected with 
things on the earth : it can appreciate love in a measure, for men 
can selfishly profit by it. But the moment there is a godliness 
which cares not for the things of the earth — not merely in the 
refusal of evil things, for they could understand this — but in 
deliberate separation even when men are doing their best, 
(i.e., seeking to be religious and to honour God in their own way,) 
nothingf so excites men's hatred now ; much more so when that 
day comes. For then Satan will have lost all power and place in 
heaven, and have only the earth to work in, and the thought of 
blessedness above is hateful to him. He endeavours to make 
men think that the beast is God, and takes advantage, I suppose, 
of the prophecies in scripture to make them believe that the 
predicted good time is arrived, that God is come Ixxck to the 
world, that men have nothing to do but to enjoy all the bless- 
ings of the earth and of the day spoken of when God was to 
scatter Ilis enemies. Satan seeks that men should antedate this 
under himself and without God. He will know what is at hand 
and his own torment when that day arrives. He will endeavour 
to turn to account the very promises of God, for cheating the 
world into the belief that these times of chiefest evil are the 
days of heaven on the earth. This is the time described here, 
when conscience towards God will be completely null and void, 
and what was true of Pharaoh on a small scale will be verified 
in entire Christendom. It will be given up to judicial hardening 


and then destroyed. It is just what the Spirit shews us in 2 Thess. 
ii. 11, 12, when God, grieved with this world because of their 
rejection of the truth, will allow man and Satan to do their 
worst together. "For this cause God shall send them strong 
delusion, that they should believe a lie ; that they all might be 
damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in un- 
righteousness." And I most fully believe not only that God will 
do so righteously, but that the righteousness of it will be appre- 
hended by any soul who is subject to His word. 

Here, then, we have the means by which Satan accomplished 
his purposes. He has given his vast power to the beast, and 
now he makes him an object of worship. "And it was given 
unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them : 
and authority was given him over every tribe, and people, and 
tongue, and nation. And all that dwell upon the earth shall 
worship him of whom the name is not written in the book of 
life of the slain Lamb, from the foundation of the world" 
(verses 7, 8). Here is the same distinction that I have alluded 
to before. " All that dwell on the earth " are a worse class than 
the tribes, peoples, tongues, and nations, meaning those that 
have abandoned heaven and heavenly hopes, and are fully com- 
mitted to the latter-day delusions. In the case of " every tribe, 
and people, and tongue, and nation," authority was given to the 
beast over them; but as to "those that dwell on the earth," they 
are completely subject to him and fo his malignant influence. 
"All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him." That is not 
said about the others, but these are completely given up. When 
it says, " whose names are not written in the book of life of the 
Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," the idea is not 
that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world, 
though people commonly draw from it the inference, as in 1 Pet. 
i. 19, 20, of the purpose of God. But the true meaning of the 
verse, I apprehend, is that their names were not written from 
the foundation of the world in the book of the slain Lamb. 
And, comparing this with Eev. xvii. 8, we find that the Spirit 
has left out a portion, which makes all clear by removing any 
doubt of the true connection. " And they that dwell on the 
earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book 


of life from the foundation of the world." The Holy Spirit has 
left out "of the Lamb that was slain," and puts together the 
writing in the book of life, with "from the foundation of the 
world." The language of Peter, &c., (1 Peter i. 20,) where he 
speaks of the liOrd Jesus as an unblemished, spotless lamb, 
" who verily was ordained before the foundation of the world," 
has quite another bearing. 

Then comes a solemn word of warning, on whicli I need not 
dwell at length. " If any man hath an ear, let him hear." If 
any man leadeth into captivity, into captivity he goeth : if any 
man killeth with the sword, he must be killed with the sword. 
Here is the patience and the faith of the saints " (verses 9, 10). 
That is a general maxim, true of any one ; true even for the 
beast. If he has been leading others into captivity, he is to go 
into that or worse himself: if he has killed with the sword, he 
must also be killed. But it is specially intended for the guidance 
of the saints, who might naturally infer, from the wickedness of 
the beast, and his league with the dragon, that they were at 
liberty to resist him. And there is, I believe, the reason why 
this is said, lest the saint should bo tempted to forget his place 
or God's supremacy and sure judgment. Their place was not to 
take the sword in their own defence. If they did so, what 
would be the result ? Even then, whatever their character, 
whatever the beast's, God would hohl to His principles. They 
must expect what they sought to inliict. It is the law of God's 
retributive government. The apostle Paul, in Eph. vi., does not 
scruple to use the voice of the law as to the honour due to a 
parent. " Honour thy father and mother .... that it may be 
well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." Of 
course he does not mean that a Christian should look forward 
to living on the earth as a reward for honouring parents. It 
was a principle laid down of old by God, and the apostle, 
referring to the earthly promise, merely shews that even under 
the law there was a special blessing attaclied to it. It was the 
first commandment with promise. So here the Spirit of God 
gives a general principle, true at all times, applicable alike to 
foes and friends. " If any man," &c. — it does not matter who. 
It is a false position for the Christian to assume the place of 


power ill the world. What makes it the more striking is that 
the saints spoken of here are Jewish, who of all others might 
think it very right to resist with all their might. If the beast 
blasphemed and persecuted grievously, they might say, " Surely 
we are entitled to stand up in defence of our religion and our 
lives." But says the Lord, " If any man have an ear, let him 

hear he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the 

sword." If He lets him have his way for a season, what is our 
calling? "Here is the patience and the faith of the saints" — 
faith as regards G^od, and patience as regards the enemy. Thus 
God will so much the more appear on behalf of His sufferers. 
And if the place of faith and patience belongs to those Jewish 
saints who have a comparatively earthly position, how much 
more to us who have nothing but a heavenly one ? (Comp. Matt. 
xxvi. 52.) 

Our great business, next to enjoying Christ and delighting in 
His love, should be to cultivate what is according to His will : 
so that we should not give a false witness of what He is and 
has done for us. We are not of the world ; and the moment 
we fall back upon the resources of nature, upon our own per- 
sonal power, influence, or authority, we have deserted Christian 
ground. In family relationships, to act according to our place 
of authority is -a perfectly right thing. ISTor will the blessing 
of God be with those who do not maintain the relative j)lace 
that God has set them in : as of a father or child, a husband or 
wife, &c. The affections, most important as they are, are not 
everything. God is to be respected in the order that He estab- 
lishes and sanctions. These are things which are not touched 
by our heavenly place ; on the contrary, this gives us an ojDpor- 
tuiiity of shewing we have got in Christ a fresh power for every 
legitimate relation. But to take our part as having an interest 
in this world is quite another thing, and not the place of the 
Christian ; but rather to pass lightly over it, as those tliat know 
their portion with God in heaven. Christ is coming to judge 
the world, which God regards as guilty of the blood of His Son, 
and only ripening for judgment. This truth habitually before 
our souls would preserve us from much that dishonours the Lord 
in us as Christians. 


May all we learn be used to our blessing in separating us 
from what is to end so dismally ! The outward effects of con- 
duct are not enough. The church is regarded as having the 
mind of Christ, and we are responsible to God to keep out of 
the secret snares and springs by which Satan is bringing about 
this evil. For we have to do with his working in a still more 
subtle way than his acts in the world. May we not forget what 
God is to us for the present claims of His glory ! We have the 
most blessed opportunity of being faithful to Christ now. It is 
vain to look wistfully at others, and to imagine what we could 
do if in their circumstances. God is equal to all the difficulty 
of our own position and time, and would give us the needed 
strength if we waited on Him. The only reason why we are 
apt to magnify the strangeness, &c., of circumstances, is because 
our eye is not single to Christ. When we see Him in every- 
thing, the danger, difficulty, and temptation are all at an end. 

Verses 11-18. The rise of the second beast is strongly dis- 
tinguished from that of the one already noticed. First, there 
was the beast out of the sea; now we read, "And I beheld 
another beast coming up out of the earth." The earth we have 
seen, all through the Revelation, to be the symbol of that which 
politically is established and in order — the proper scene of the 
testimony and ways of God and of settled human government. 
Its privileges may be aljused ; it may lapse into a state of 
frightful moral darkness ; for it is just where there is any bless- 
ing from above that there is the danger of corruption and 
apostacy. The sea on the contrary is a loose, disorganized aspect 
of the world. Chronologically, too, this might intimate that the 
rise of the second beast is subsequent to that of the first. When 
the seven -headed monster rises, all is in a state of agitation; 
but when and where the second beast comes up, things are con- 
solidated after a fashion. Tlie land now is spoken of — no longer 
the water, tlie sport of every wind. Dut the personage described 
as " coming up out of tlie earth " is not a mere individual. It 
is a political, oppressing power that acts without conscience 
toward God — a beast.* It may l)e, and I doubt not this is, one 

* Mr. Elliott considens tho two-horned lamb-like beast to represent the papal 
clergy, secular and regular, united under tlii' rujje, as the western patriarch, 


particular individual that exercises the power, as with the first 
beast. But " beast," as a symbol, does not mean an individual as 
such, but an imperial power, sometimes with revolting satellites 
subject to itself. 

Next, this beast was evidently of an extraordinary kind ; for 
it is characterized by an imitation of Christ. It has "two horns 
like a lamb." The Lord, we must have observed, through the 
Eevelation, is often spoken of as the "Lamb." While seated 
upon the throne of God, while described as Himself the great 
Sufferer, actively sympathizing with the suffering people of God, 
He is seen as a " Lamb." But when the saints slip out of and 
abandon their proper lot of earthly rejection, the Lord ceases to 
be thus symbolized. He seems ashamed of them and retreats 
to a distance, and is seen as an angel and not any longer as a 
Lamb. The extraordinary thing that we see here is that this 
beast assumes to be like Christ. He has two horns like a lamb. 
He makes a sort of pretension to be like Christ in ofiicial power. 
While the horn is used as a symbol of a king, it may also mean 
simply power. It was so used when speaking of David, "the horn 
of his anointed," &c. ; but still more is this meaning of it apparent 
if we look at the Lord Jesus, who is seen in this book as having 
seven horns and seven eyes. Clearly the seven horns there can- 
not be seven kings ; so that the horns, according to the context, 
either might mean kings, or they might be simply power. In 
the former beast we are told they signify kings ; but per sc they 
need not, and here they seem not to mean more than power. It 
is not the perfection of power as seen in the Lamb, but only 
pretension to it ; there were two horns. The Spirit jof God has 
been pleased to shew us in chapter xvii. of this book, that the 
ten horns of the first beast are ten kings. (Chap, xvii. 12.) 

So far, then, all is plain about this second beast. It is a 
corporate power that grows up when all was formed and orderly, 
and consequently arising after the appearance of the first beast. 

and supporting him in his loftier character of Christ's vicar or antichrist. 
Matt. vii. 15, he thinks, almost precludes the possibility of error in thus inter- 
preting the symbol of the anti- christian clerical body. But does not a "boast," 
in prophetic imagery, alwaj's imply a political corporation or civil power, novfr 
(certainly elsewhere) a priestly class however organised ? Ought such an clement 
to be left out in interpreting the chapter } 



More than that. He arrogates to himself tlie power of Christ 
(he has two horns like a lamb); but his speech betrays him — he 
speaks as a dragon. Out of the abundance of the heart, we 
know, the mouth speaks. Whatever he may appear to be out- 
wardly, when he does give utterance to the real sentiments of 
his heart, it is the voice of the dragon. Of this the draconic 
voice is the expression. It is the great active power of evil in 
the latter day ; and this is one difference between these beasts. 
The first beast is the one for show : it catches the profane 
world through the display of power and glory. The second 
beast is much the more energetic of the two. It is the one 
that most takes the place of Christ — is a false Christ, or rather 
is antichrist — i.e., the very expression of Satan in his direct 
oi:»position to Christ. When Satan was seen (chapter xii.) wait- 
ing to devour the man child as soon as it was born, he is not as 
the serpent, but as the dragon. And here, in order to the 
ripening of his last designs, this beast speaks as a dragon. 

But it may be interesting to look at some of the scriptures 
that apply to the second beast, for there is often a good deal of 
confusion about them ; and it is not to be wondered at, for these 
two beasts are so closely bound together in the last days, that 
it is a difficult matter to determine which of them is the 
antichrist. The word "Antichrist" is only found in the Epistles 
of John. And there we must look if we would see what 
is implied in that name. In 1 John ii. the Holy Ghost writes 
as to this to tlie babes of God's family. For it is not at 
all a true principle that the young in Christ are only to know 
Him for the salvation of their own souls. The rea.-son, 1 suppose, 
for thus writing to them was, because they wei-e in special 
danger from the snares and deceits of the enemy ; and the Lord, 
while He preserves, does not want us to l)o kept blindfold. 
Christian guidance is not unintelligent. It is not the blind 
leading the blind, nor even the seeing leading tlie blind ; but 
it is tlie seeing leading the seeing. God does give liel]) and 
instruction ; but the Holy Ghost takes particular pains to 
shew that He a])peals not to the saints' ignorance, but to their 
knowledge of the truth. "Little children, it is the last time: 
and as ye have heard tliat the antichrist shall come, even now 


are there many antichrists ; whereby we know that it is the last 
time." There we learn with certainty what was working from 
and in the time of the Apostle John, what has been increasing 
ever since, and bearing a terrible harvest up to the present time, 
though the fruit of it, the antichrist, may not yet be fully ripe. 
" Even now are there many antichrists, whereby we know that 
it is the last time." That was the proof — not good, as men 
think, but the deep evil of antichrist spreading. " They went 
out from us, but they were not of us : for if they had been of 
us, they would no doubt have continued with us : but they went 
out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of 
us." What a solemn thing ! 

The persons displaying the spirit of antichrist were individuals 
that had once professed the name of Christ. In fact, there could 
not be an antichrist unless there had been some previous pro- 
fession of Christ. There must necessarily be some truth ; for 
Satan cannot invent. He can imitate ; he can corrupt God's 
truth, and use it for his own purposes, and put it in new and 
evil forms, so as to give the appearance of truth to what is 
positive error : " for no lie is of the truth." Thus the great 
antichrist is to come : but even then were there many anti- 
christs. These persons, painful to say, had once been in the 
family of God. There they had been, outwardly in the place of 
children, but not of course in reality. Then "they went out 
form us, but they were not of us." Next he says, " Who is a 
liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ ?" But he 
goes farther. To deny that Jesus is the Christ is the first 
feature. But there are greater abominations. " He is antichrist, 
that denieth the Father and the Son." There are two states 
spoken of here. First, there is the denial that Jesus is the 
Messiah, the last degree of that infidelity which every unbe- 
lieving Jew shews who rejects Christ from that day to this. 
But the terrible thing is, that it is found in those who had once 
taken their place in confessing Jesus to be the Christ. Of 
him who will finally be the leader in giving it up and renounc- 
ing, it is said, " he is a liar." But more than that. He is not 
only a liar, but an antichrist " that denieth the Father and the 
Son." Jesus was the Messiah, and nmch more : the Father wai 

u 2 


displayed in Him. If I look at the Messiah as such, I do not 
necessarily and fully see the Father there. In Him is the truth 
of the kingdom of God ; in Him the display of His power and 
faithfulness to His people. But there is something far more 
blessed than the kingdom ; for when T have the thought of the 
Father, I rise not merely into the region of divine power, but 
into that of the highest, holiest, most intimate affections. It is 
evident that what we know in the presence of God now is an 
infinitely nearer thing than the glory that He will give or display 
by and by. This will tell others what His feelings are toward 
us, proving the love we are brought into now. We do not wait 
for the kingdom to know this ; but by the Holy Ghost we draw 
near to God noM', in the most blessed way in which He here re- 
veals Himself. Of course when in heaven we shall have a more 
unalloyed knowledge of His love, an enjoyment never inter- 
rupted by the workings of a carnal mind or by worldly influ- 
ences. Every hindrance will be removed — all idols will vanish ; 
for every present thing which becomes an object to the mind, 
instead of Christ, is really an idol. We shall be out of and 
above all this when we are taken to be with the Lord. But the 
love of the Father is just as true and perfect now, and we by 
the Holy Ghost are privileged to enjoy it. We shall enter more 
fully into the love then, but the love itself is the same even now. 
It is the rejection, then, not merely of the Messiahship of the 
Lord Jesus, but of His divine glory as the Son, that brings in 
antichrist. All the love of the Father has come out in Christ, 
witnessed by the Holy Ghost. That involves, not merely the 
Jewish revelation, but the Christian ; and it supposes too that , 
Messiah has not only come and been rejected, but has brought 
out all His divine and heavenly glory. For His being the Son 
of the Father has nothing to do with the earth. His eternal 
Sonship is evidently a truth transcending entirely His Messianic 
rights and position. It \\ould have been equally true if there 
had been no earth or providential dealings. It was His eternal 
relation and glory ; and therefore, when the Holy Ghost wants 
to bring us into our full place of l)l('ssedness, it is the Fatlier 
that He biiiigs out. "Blessed lie the God and Father (if <»ur 
Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all s})iritual bless- 


ings." Where ? Here ? Not at all. " In heavenly places in Christ, 
according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of 
the world." So that the seat of our blessing is entirely outside 
and above the whole scene of the lower creation. And if a man 
utterly rejects and despises that, renouncing His glory whom he 
had once owned, what is he ? An antichrist. What he does on a 
small scale, the antichrist will do on a larger one. 

I refer to the Epistles of John, because there we have the 
antichrist mentioned, not as a beast as in the Kevelation, but 
as the end and chief of those who had once been in the family 
of God outwardly, had gone out from it, abandoning and deny- 
ing the blessed truth about the Father and the Son, which they 
seemed to have received. " He is antichrist that denieth the 
Father and the Son." On the other hand, we read, " Whosoever 
denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father." God always 
makes the utmost account of His Son. If you deny the Son, 
everything is gone ; whereas " he that acknowledgeth the Son 
hath the Father also." When I possess the Son of God and my 
heart finds satisfaction in Him, I know the Father. " He that 
hath seen me hath seen the Father also." 

Then, after exhorting them to let that abide in them which 
they had heard from the beginning, that so they might continue 
in the Son and in the Father, John closes the matter thus : 
" These things have I written unto you concerning them which 
seduce you." It was an evil that was at work from the very be- 
ginning. And what mercy is there even in this ! As the evil did 
exist, and must be manifested at some time or another, God 
allowed it to break out then, so as to put His own revealed sen- 
tence upon it. We should never have dared to have said such 
strong things of those whom we had even known as friends or 
as brethren so-called. Call them liars ! How shocking and un- 
charitable ! men would say. But the moment that any men set 
themselves against (or rather deny) the full revelation of the 
Son of God, the Holy Ghost knows no quarter ; and I believe 
that we ought not. If the heart is unprepared for this, you will 
find another thing that goes along with it. Wherever unbroken 
self-love, sensitiveness, and tenacity reign about what touches 
ourselves, there is but little care for the Lord Jesus. You cannot 


have two master affections. When the heart is single to Clirist, 
He lifts us above personal feelings ; but where the heart's care 
is for ourselves, there will not be found much devotedness to 
Him, nor jealousy for His name. 

In 1 John iv. the apostle refers to the spirit of the evil. 
" Every spirit that confesseth not Jesus Christ come in the flesh 
is not of God: and this is the [spuit] of antichrist, whereof ye 
have heard that it should come, and even now already is it 
in the world." Why does the Holy Ghost introduce it here ? 
There are many false prophets, as had been said in the first 
verse, gone out into the world: and so I believe there are now. 
But it is a most difficult thing to realize it at the time in which 
we live. We can see it in times that are past; but the great 
difficulty is the discerning of what is at work now. We are in the 
very same circumstances that the saints were in then. For as 
surely as the Holy Ghost continues to work, so surely will the 
subtle power of Satan be there to oppose. "Every spirit that 
confesseth not," &c. Such is the power or principle of antichrist 
"whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now 
already is it in the world." It is not' the antichrist fully deve- 
loped yet, but the spirit of it working among men, just as much 
as the Holy Ghost was working also. The earliest sphere is not 
in the profane world; it must begin with those who had once 
borne the name of Christ. Satan could not forge such a rebellion 
against God, but among those who profess to believe the truth. 

Again, there is a notice of this in the second Epistle of John, 
where it is said that "many deceivers are entered into the 
world, who confess not Jesus Christ come in the flesh. This is 
a deceiver and an antichrist." It is no longer a question of justi- 
fication by faith simply, or of the law, but a more serious thing 
still. It is Satan, not only attacking tlio work of Christ and 
seeking to get persons to add something, and so to take away 
from its glory, but deprecating and denying the person of the 
Son. Important as the work of Christ is to us, the person of 
Christ is tlie centre and substance of all truth and glory. In 
presence of such a theme, I desire not to discuss but to worship. 
Tlie reason wliy i)ersons care more lor the work of Clirist is 
because they rightly feel they cannot be saved without it ; but 


once we have got peace of conscience, Christ's person becomes 
the most precious object of our hearts. He is G-od's delight ; 
and what is most precious to Him, we shall find to be the most 
blessed, and full of blessing for us. It is not merely he that 
denies Jesus Christ come in the flesh, but he that does not 
confess Jesus Christ coming in the flesh: this is a deceiver and 
an antichrist. The Holy Ghost becomes, if we may so say, 
bolder in His statements. Does He lower the standard, because 
Satan apparently gains ground, and becomes more and more 
audacious against Christ ? And are we to say, " We must not 
be so particular now, because there is so much evil ;" and "there 
is no hope, because the church is in ruins ?" On the contrary 
the Spirit, making provision for the latest time, uses stronger 
language than ever. He says (verse 10), " If there come any 
unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your 
house, neither bid him good speed [greeting]." We are to have 
nothing to say to him. Not only was he not to be received into 
the church, the house of the living God, but not even into a 
Christian's house. He must have no sanction nor footing among 
the saints ; for the Christian's house ought to be a fortress for 
the name of the Lord, a reflection of what the Lord loves 
and produces where He is owned and honoured. Even ordi- 
nary greeting is to be refused. No matter if it be only to 
the lady that he is writing — one who is not called to teach 
or to rule. But when it is a question of Christ, it is in 
vain to talk about her being a woman, as an excuse for laxity. 
She wants Christ ; she owes all to Christ ; and if she is a 
woman, is she not bound to make Christ the first question, the 
object of her soul ? Therefore, if any person touches Christ, no 
matter who or what she may be, her allegiance to Christ calls 
for promptness and decision. That at once becomes the govern- 
ing motive to faith, and the one grand responsibility of her soul. 
Whether it be persons who have the spirit of antichrist, or the 
great antichrist himself that is coming, antagonism to Christ is 
there ; and this decides all to a true heart. 

In the Eevelation antichrist is described, not merely as a 
deceiver, but as a " beast," as an earthly power which has a 
subject kingdom — an imperial system, in fact, rather than a 


purely spiritual malignant influence, as in the Epistles of John. 
If we look a little at some of the Jewish prophets, we shall 
find more about him. I refer more particularly to Daniel xi. 
Towards the close (verse 36) we read these words : " The king- 
shall do according to his will ; . . . . and he shall exalt himself 
and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak mar- 
vellous things against the God of gods." Who can deny you 
have a self-exalting personage in the land of Judea ? This is 
very plain; for lower down it is said that "in his estate shall 
he honour the god of forces : a god whom his fathers knew not 
shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, 
and pleasant things. Thus shall he do in the most strongholds 

with a strange god, &c And he shall cause them to rule 

over many, and shall divide the land for gain." Now, I think 
that wherever the Holy Ghost speaks of a land in this way, as 
the land, it refers to the land of Israel. He speaks of it as the 
Lord's own land. This is confirmed a verse or two afterwards 
(verse 41). "He [the king of the north] shall enter also into 
the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown." 
Thus a great northern antagonist is to come against the king 
(verse 40) " like a whirlwind, with chariots and with horsemen," 
&c. Most evidently, then, the glorious land spoken of here is 
the very country which "the king" had been distributing to his 
favourites. In short, lie is a king in the land of Judea, and it 
is expressly said that the period, policy, and conflicts described 
are " at the time of the end." Then " shall the king of the 
south push at him [the king in Judea] ; and the king of the 
north shall come against him," &c. 

If this be so, several points are cleared in these verses. First 
of all a king, who does according to his own will, establishes 
himself in the land of Palestine. But while you may find the 
moral features tliat link him witli the " antichrist" of John, he 
is viewed here as an earthly power, and is thus connected with 
one of tlie beasts of the Revelation. But more than that, he is 
to exalt and magnify himself above every god. This was a 
novel feature. The Boman emperors had honours paid to tliem 
in life and after death as divine ; yet never above every god. 
But "the king" shall magnify himself supremely; and this in a 


land that was specially Jehovah's above all others, and amongst 
a people whom God had called out to be a witness against all 
idolatry ; and yet this man claims a new and most audacious 
worshi^J, as the Most High in God's land and temple. (Compare 
2 Thess. ii.) For bad as Israel had been of old, enflaming them- 
selves "with idols under every green tree," here we have the 
sight, hitherto unknown, of a man setting himself up as the 
supreme God. And yet he has an object of worship himself: 
for man must have an idol which enslaves him, unless he is 
truly exalted, as alone he can be in bowing down before the 
true God. In reality he is most elevated when most subject to 
God. For man, unlike God, cannot suffice in and for himself 
without another. He must either raise his eyes to the true God, 
or degrade them on a false one. Even the very person who will 
try to get all beneath him, as supreme object of worship, will 
himself have something to which he is subject. And so we find 
(verse 37) that while he does not regard the God of his fathers 
(which confirms his being a Jew), nor the desire of women 
(which probably refers to the Messiah), nor regard any god, for 
he shall magnify himself above all ; yet the Spirit of God shews 
us this apparent self-contradiction (verse 38). " In his estate 
shall he honour the god of forces." All others are to honour 
him, but he has this false god whom he himself honours 
"with gold, and silver, and precious stones, and pleasant things. 
Thus shall he do with a strange god, whom he shall acknow- 
ledge and increase with glory And at the time of the 

end shall the king of the south j)ush at him, and the king of 

the north shall come against him He shall enter also into 

the glorious land." 

Now here plainly we have Palestine. The kings of the south 
and north are so called with reference to the land of Judea. 
The king of the north, described as coming against him with 
this large force, is the enemy so familiar in the jDrophets, while 
the king of the south is the then sovereign of Egypt. 

These two powers come up against " the king," who, I appre- 
hend, is the antichrist of scripture. The Holy Ghost does not 
here describe his rise. There was no need to say who he was, 
but he is brought in quite abruptly. Thus, if verse 35 be 


examined, one sees clearly that it speaks of some who had under- 
standing, referring to what took place in the time of the Mac- 
cabees, when a celebrated and most wicked prince, Antiochus 
Epiphanes, persecuted the Jews, many of whom then withstood 
him in a remarkable way. There might have been a good deal of 
nature and the spirit of the world in their feelings and actions ; 
nevertheless they resisted all efforts to turn tliem away from 
Jehovah to idols. Some of them fell, and this was in order to 
try others, and " to purge and to make them white, even to the 
time of the end : because it is yet for a time appointed." 

Here precisely comes in the space where tlie Spirit of God 
drops the past history. He first gives us the struggle between 
Antiochus and his adversaries, followed by the exploits and 
the sufferings of those who had understanding in Israel. The 
history of Israel is then in abeyance, and we are at once 
carried on to "the time of the end." Between these two points 
there is a suspension of their history. 

What is the next thing ? " And the king shall do according 
to his will." We are not here told anything about his origin or 
progress ; we hear nothing whence he comes ; we have only 
that peculiar phrase, " the king," as if this would be intimation 
enough who was intended. Nor is it the only place in Scriptiire 
where "the king" is spoken of. Look at the close of Isaiah 
XXX. and you will find "the king" introduced there in no less 
singular a manner. The reason, I believe, is this ; that the 
Jews, while they were looking for Christ, weva also looking for 
antichrist, a great prince who should trample down the godly 
among them in their final tribulation. It was plain in pro- 
phecy and so understood by them. In this ch. xxx. the Spirit 
of God desciibes two enemies of Israel. First in verse 31 it is 
said, " For through the voice of Jehovah shall the Assyrian be 
broken down which smote with a rod." This is the king of the 
north that figures in Daniel, typified in the early prophet 
perhaps by Sennacherib, who was the Assyrian of that day, but 
of course only a foreshadow of the great northern enemy at the 
close. Then again it is said, " And in every place where the 
grounded staff shall pass, which Jehovah shall lay upon him, 
it shall be with tabrets and harps ; and in battles of shaking 


will he fight with it." Thus, although there will be such sorrow 
and trial, there will be joy too : " it shall be with tabrets and 
harps." " For Tophet is ordained of old : for the king also it is 
prepared." This I believe to be the force of it — " for the king 
also." Thus, if the statement made be correct, you have at the 
closing scene the judgment of God on these two great enemies 
of Israel — the Assyrian, and " the king" who is introduced here 
without a word of preparation. 

In Isaiah Ivii, the same thing appears. I refer to it the more, 
as some might argue that in chap. xxx. "the Assyrian" and "the 
king" are identical. But in chap. Ivii. it would be impossible 
to maintain this. The prophet has just been describing the 
appalling moral evil of the last days among the Jews. Then 
suddenly he says (ver. 9), " Thou wentest to the king with oint- 
ment," &c. It is plain from this, that "the king" is some 
special antagonist of God, not attacking the Jews from without 
like the Assyrian, but setting himself up within as king over 
the people of God. It was not necessary to define what king, 
because it was a familiar idea to Israel, so that the Holy Ghost 
could introduce him without a word of preface. They knew 
there was the terrible king to come — the last great enemy of 
God and the Jews in the land. The Assyrian is an enemy of 
God and of Israel too, but not in the land ; for he fights against 
"the king" wlio is reigning there. The last wilful king is the 
object of attack to the last mighty Assyrian. Outrageously 
wicked as both are to be, they do not at all agree in their 
wickedness. They stand in each other's way. There never can 
be lasting peace between them, and this is exactly what the 
eleventh chapter of Daniel shews us. The forty-first verse is 
not at all a description of " the king." He seems to be lost to 
view, and there follows the account of the proud king of 
Assyria. The Holy Ghost presses on to the end of the 
Assyrian's career, leaving that of " the king." 

Looking now at the New Testament, we shall find some new 
features about this king. In 2 Thess. ii.* we have the fullest 

* I take the opportunity of stating my conviction, which I have reason to 
know Mr. Birks shares, that the auth. ver. is quite justified in giving " by the 
coming (or presence) of our Lord Jesus Christ," rather than "with regard to." 


account of him that the Epistles of St. Paul iifford. In verse 3 
it is said, " Let no man deceive you by any means : for [that 
day shall not come,] except there come the falling away first, 
and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." There 
is first the falling away, that is the special apostacy. The man 
of sin is another and subsequent thing. The apostacy prepares 
the way for the revelation of the man of sin. Thus the French 

So it is in the iEthiopic probably, the Ai-abic, Gothic, Syriac, and Vulgate. 
Mr. Elliott, and the commentators he follows, have overlooked the most impor- 
tant elements for deciding the true meaninij;. It is not a question of vnep only, 
hut of v-ntp with a verb of entreating, which yields regularly the sense "for the 
sake of" or "by." (Matthiae's Gr. Gram. vol. ii. § 582; Jclf, vol. ii. § 630.) 

Bp. Ellicott avoids the error of Mr. Elliott, who doubts whether virip ever 
bears what he calls the "adjurative sense;" but, while admitting that it is 
"grammatically tenable," he contends that it is by no means " exegetically 
probable," and that it is without precedent in the New Testament. But the 
latter is an unreasonable objection ; because there is no other instance in the 
New Testament, that I know, of ipoiraw, or an equivalent word, with this 
preposition (save 2 Cor. v. 20, which Wahl takes as = per, Mr. Green as " on 
behalf of," which is inapplicable here ; but I wave this as doubtful) ; and there- 
fore we must be regulated by its ordinary force in such constructions But we 
have frequently sp. with ntpi there, which carries a sense entirely different. 

Again, the real source of the difficulty is owing to the exegetical mistake that 
the presence of the Lord is the same thing as His day. It would be most un- 
natural, as Dean Alford argues, that the apostle should conjure them by that 
concerning which he was about to teach them. But the apostle does no such 
thing; on the contrary, ho entreats them by "the coming" of Christ with all 
its cheering associations and its bright hope— the gatluring of the saints to their 
Lord, that they should not be agitated by the terrors of "the day," which false 
teachers i)retended was actually present. Both the Dean of Canterbury and 
Bishop of Bristol agree with me that tviffTijKtv means "is already come," not 
merely "at hand," as very faultily represented in the English Bible. St. Paul 
in the first Epistle had already taught the Thessalonians their hope, as he had 
also in his oral ministry respecting the man of sin, and the hindrance which 
actually operated against his manifestation. He now puts these truths in their 
order, and bese(?chos them by Christ's coming, as a kiu)wn motive on account of 
which they should not be moved by tlio false alarm that this familiar and 
dreaded day of trouble was arrived. It is the presence 'irapovaia) of the Lord 
which gathers the saints to meet Him above ; it is the epiphany or shining forth 
of His presence which destroys the lawless one below — a manifestly subsequent 
event, spite of Bcngel, as appears beyond a doubt from comparing it with liev. 
xix. The saints are already with Christ, and follow Him out of heaven for the 
judgment of the beast and the false prophet and their adherents. The docu- 
ment on which the errorists rested was a pretended letter of the apostle, not 
the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, as some wrongly assert ; and the feeling 


revolution answers to the apostacy rather than Eomanism, 
which confesses truths, but all of them put out of their right 
place. There will be a further and more terrible development 
of the apostacy, though this illustrates it. But there is to be 
more than that— the man of sin. Who is he ? The Lord Jesus 
Christ was the man of righteousness. This is the antagonist — 
the man of sin — " the son of perdition, who opposeth and 

they sought to excite was not the hope of Christ's coining, but the fear of His 
day. The criticism and the doctrine of the Horae Apoc. as to this are unfounded. 

Others are no better. Schleusner who is quoted writes loosely ; and the 
words of Hesychius (vol. i. col. 1233, ed. Alberti) do not warrant the inference 
that the same word in the same tense means either present or future ; for 
TTpoKiifievov seems only a following up of TrdpovTa, not another variety of 
signification. The verb is generally used for what lies stretched before, as 
(meats) ready laid, the question in hand, things already settled and agreed on. 
I am not aware of its ever distinctly meaning the future. But so emphatically 
the contrary is evtffrwQ that, as is well known, grammarians have selected it as 
the proper term for the present tense {xpovoc ivearojg). The latest (sixth) 
edition of Liddell and Scott's Lexicon shews their statement modified as to this; 
as in fact none of the throe instances cited from classical authors {Ai\ Nub. 779, 
Isasus, 88. 40, Dem. 896. 49) necessarily means impending, Lat. imniinois. Dr. 
Scott has himself acknowledged to me that they may all, as I believe they all do, 
mean "present," and thus harmonize instead of clashing with the regular force 
of the word everywhere else, both in the Sept. (including the Apocrypha) and 
the New Testament. Thus the passage in the Clouds means " while one suit was 
still pending," i.e., actually going on, not impending or future. Again, Mr. E. 
does not appear to have hit the force of Isreus on the estate of Hagnias ; and 
here, though I have no doubt whatever, I prefer for obvious reasons to cite from 
the celebrated Sir W. Jones's version, p. 139 (London, 1779). "Moreover the 
inheritance of Hagnias is not yet well secured to me, since some actions brought 
against the witnesses for perjury will make it necessary for me to obtain a 
second adjudication." This is a very different thing from an " impending trial ;" 
and confirms the general rule instead of being an exception for which wc have 
to account. In the demurrer in reference to Apaturius, the third alleged excep- 
tion, the suits were already begun when they came to arbitration. 

So the argument on -Kapiffriv, John xi. 28-30, is invalid for Mr. E. and rather 
strengthens what he contends against. For our Lord had actually quitted the 
place where He was when the news of the sickness of Lazarus arrived, traversed 
the considerable intervening distance, and was only just outside the village. 
Ylapiariv is strictly true there, and in no way modifies ivkaTtjKiv in our text. If 
the false teachers at Thessalonica taught that the Lord had left the right hand 
of God and begun the judgments of "that day," without having yet caught up 
the saints in Thessalonica or anywhere else, it woidd be quite parallel to the 
case of John xi. The word therefore retains here also and everywhere its 
characteristic sense. 


exaltetli himself above all that is called God, or that is wor- 
shipped." Just the same sort of moral features that we see in 
Daniel about " the king," we have in this man of sin. " So 
that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he 
is God." Here we have another point. He is evidently one 
reigning at Jerusalem. He sits " in the temple of God," which, 
I see no reason to doubt, means the literal and well-known 
temple there.* At the same time, if anybody likes to apply 
the principle of this scripture to one who may pervert the place 
of the church, and make it an engine and sphere for exalting 
himself in now, I have notliing to object, I dare say that it 
may legitimately be so applied — at least in part; but I think 
that it looks on to a person who arrogates to himself the honour 
due only to the true God. " Eemember ye not," the apostle says, 
" that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things ? And 
now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his 
time. For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work." Only 
there is one that hinders. When that hindrance is removed, the 
lawless one will immediately be seen, and in due time his judg- 
ment come when the Lord appears. 

Just as the apostle John says, "Even now are there many 
antichrists ; " so here the mystery of iniquity was already work- 
ing: only one was holding tilings in abeyance just now. "He who 
now letteth [will let] until he be taken out of the way." I do 
not the least doubt that the hinderer is the power of the Spirit 
of God, not merely dwelling in the church, but acting in the way 
of control in the world, as the seven Spirits of God sent forth 
into all the earth. If it were simply the Holy Ghost dwelling 
in the church, the moment the church was taken away, the man 
of sin would be revealed. But i.t appears that the lawless one 

* The allusion is obvious and undeniable to Dan. xi., which has the Jews 
and their land in view, not the church. This I consider entirelj* confirmed by 
Matt. xxiv. 15, which certainly refers to a thing and time subsequent to Christ's 
rejection by the Jews and His rejection of them ; but as clearly, to my mind, 
looks on to a time when He will again have a godly remnant, in the midst of an 
unbelieving generation governed by a false king under Roman influence. If, 
under such circumstances, the temple can be called the " holy place," why may 
it not bo also "the temple of GodP" The reasoning from what the house of God is 
now, while the church abides here, is quite nugatory. Compare also " the holy 
city" in Matt, x.wii. 63. God's purpose is not revoked, spite of Israel's guilt. 


will not arrive at his full stature and manifestation immediately 
on the rapture of the saints. There will be an interval and a 
testimony which God will give. When this testimony disappears, 
or is put down by violence, the man of sin comes out full-blown. 
This seems to be the hour when the Holy Ghost ceases to re- 
strain. He lets men shew out then just what they are ; and all 
their wickedness comes forth. The Holy Ghost thus no longer 
controlling the earth, Satan will be allowed to mature his w^orst 
plans for a very brief moment. 

This, I think, is the time, and such its character, when the 
hinderer or hindrance will be taken out of the way. The early 
Christians used for many years to pray for the continuance of 
the Eoman empire, because they thought it was the letting 
thing ; that gone, they expected the lawless one to be revealed 
forthwith. And as its diabolical form is assuredly to arise after 
a previous existence and extinction, there was a certain measure 
of truth in their thought. But the Eoman empire has long been 
extinct, and yet the man of sin in his full development has not 
yet been revealed. The re-appearance of the empire, not its 
extinction, is the critical epoch; and that will depend on the 
Holy Ghost's ceasing to restrain. When it does take place, all 
the evil of man and of Satan comes out without measure or dis- 
guise. " Only he who now letteth [will let] until he be taken 
out of the way. And then shall that lawless one be revealed, 
whom the Lord Jesus shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, 
and shall destroy with the shining forth of his presence." 

Kevelation xix. clescribes this destruction. In that chapter 
(verse 20), after a previous description of the coming of the 
Lord in judgment, it is said, " The beast was taken, and with 
him the false proj)het that wrought miracles before him .... 
These both were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with 
brimstone." They are, without doubt, the same systems or 
persons already characterized as the beasts from the sea and the 
earth in Eev. xiii. Now it is plain that one or other of these 
two beasts is antichrist. The question still remains, which of 
them is that man of sin ? Is it the great power of the world, the 
beast that rises out of the sea ? Or is it the other energetic 
beast that rises out of the earth, imitating Christ in royal and 


prophetic power ? Disposed to think it is the latter, * I can 
frankly allow that I see difficulties, and believe it is not a thing 
to be dogmatized upon. Indeed these beasts are so closely linked 
together in their actions and objects, and also in their final doom, 
that we cannot be surprised if many find it hard to decide, or if 
intelligent minds come to different conclusions. But the more 
that I weigh what is said in St. Paul about the man of sin, and 
in St. John's Epistles about the antichrist, my mind looks out 
for the beast that has most appearance of rivalling and opposing 
Christ. This I find emphatically in the beast that rises out of 
the earth. 

Let us now consider a little what the chapter further gives us, 
bringing the light that we have gathered from other parts of the 
scriptures to bear upon our enquiry. After the description of 
the beast in verse 11, we read of the exercise of his power 
(verse 12). " He exerciseth all the authority of the first beast 
before him," that is, in his presence. He is the energetic power, 
the one that cares much more for real influence and energy than 
for outward shew, which was what the first beast most valued. 
" He caused the earth and those that dwell therein to worship 
the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed." Observe again 
here that those that dwell on the earth are abandoned to his 
delusive power. 

Some, seeing that the second beast works to procure worship 
for the first beast, have conceived that 2 Thess. ii. negatives the 
idea that the second beast is the same as the man of sin; because 
there he is represented as allowing no other object of worship 
tlian himself. Rut it is manifest that there are three i)ersoiis 
who are closely connected together in this scene — the dragon, 
tlie world-power or first beast, and the politico-religious or 
second beast. It appears from Rev. xiii. 4, that the dragon is 
worshipped as well as the first beast ; so that whether we suppose 
the first beast or the second to be the antichrist and man of 

• So Hippolytus Komanus, a martyr under Maximin or Decius, and said by 
Photius to have been a disciple of Ironacus. It would seem from Jerome that 
ho wrote furinally on the Apocalypse, beside the short treatise still extant Trtpt 
rov (TuiTtjpoc: I'lfiiov 'I. X. Kai iripi tov (ivrixpiffrow. In this last (§ 49) he thus 
speaks of the second beast: to fiiv ovv Qri()iov uva^aivov ik r>)c yij^ Tt)v 
(iaaiKtiuv Tt)v tov avTi\piaTov iaofiivnv X'tyu. 


sin, the difficulty would remain nearly the same. In either case 
the worship is shared by another. In point of fact, they are 
the anti- trinity, and find their bond in the unseen power of 

The second beast is very important. He is the really active 
power in the Holy Land. The beast out of the sea has his do- 
minion over the west, with large influence beyond it ; but 
Palestine or Jerusalem is not his sphere, save that he destroys 
the witnesses and falls there. It is the second beast that is the 
great power known to the Holy Land. " He doeth great signs, 
so that he maketh even fire come down from heaven unto the 
earth in the sight of men" (verse 13). What imparts such deep 
and painful interest to the miracle is this : it was the special 
sign whereby Elijah confounded the false prophets of Baal. 
When the whole question lay between God and Baal, what was 
the turning-point that decided the claims of Jehovah against 
the false god ? It was this very thing — fire coming down from 
heaven. It had been a familiar token in Israel, and one tliat 
they might justly connect with the direct approval and power 
of God. For He had caused fire to come down from heaven at 
various times, as a signal proof of His approbation. Fire came 
out from before the Lord when the priests were consecrated ; 
the same thing too when the temple was built and hallowed by 
Solomon. (2 Chron. vii.) "Now when Solomon had made an 
end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed 
the burnt-offering and the sacrifices ; and the glory of the Lord 
filled the house." It was the crowning evidence of Jehovah's 
presence connected with Israel — of His presence filling the 
scene and accepting their sacrifices. 

Here then is this frightful imitator and antagonist of tlie 
Lord Jesus, who sets himself up to be the God of Israel as well 
as the Christ. The true Messiah was the God of Israel, and here 
we find His majesty and claims and power emulated ; the anti- 
christ too must cause fire to come down from heaven. I do not 
say fire really from heaven, but the appearance of it; in the 
sight of men it was fire coming from heaven. As Satan could 
imitate, so here was this wicked power, whose presence was after 
the working of Satan, doing apparently what Elijah had done. 



The same proof that Elijah had given for Jehovah against Baal 
is the one that he offers here in his own name. It is an awful 
scene, and still more so if compared with tlie passage in 2 Thess. 
ii. 9. For, sad to say, the very same words that are used in 
speaking of tlie miracles of Christ, in Acts ii. 22, are applied 
here by the Holy Ghost to the man of sin. " Jesus of Naza- 
reth," said St. Peter, " a man approved of God among you, by 
miracles, and wonders, and signs." So in 2 Thess. the lawless 
man is one "whose coming is after the working of Satan, with 
all power, and signs, and lying wonders." The peculiar signs of 
Christ, that men should know the truth, are imitated by this 
impostor. He performs for falsehood similar things, and men 
are completely taken in and deceived. 

What prepares the way for such an end is the dissatisfaction 
that men will feel with Christendom as it is. I acknowledge 
that they justly speak evil against the state into which Chris- 
tianity has got. When it loses its heavenly separateness, and is 
mingled with worldly principles, confusion is the result. They 
forget that Satan is the god of this world. Hence he has blinded 
them entirely as to what the church of God is, and what is 
due to the name of His Son here below. Christ is plainly left 
out of the question, and even the truthfulness is wanting which 
would be required by men in the commonest things of this life. 
It is not that one would desire to say a word against others; but 
God forbid that we should not judge, with all heart and con- 
science, a thing that is even beneath common honesty in the 
things of this life. When the church, or the individual Chris- 
tian, ceases to judge, or if it condemn in heart, allows in 
practice, in the holiest things, that which a natural man does 
not in human and social relations ; so that oven the very world 
can see that what clothes itself with the name of Christ is all 
wrong; — when such a time as this arrives, can God longer 
refrain ? Judgment is coming apace ; and what a mercy it is 
that God has given us something sweet as our hope and happi- 
ness, and not the perpetual dark foreboding of most certain 
judgment ! Our portion is outside the sphere of the world. 
Judgment there must be before the world can be fully blest. If 
a person were merely to dwell on evil and its judgment, do you 


think it would give power to act for good ? It is not the shewing 
up of what is wrong, but bringing grace and truth to act on 
our souls which gives power : otherwise it might only be getting 
out of one form of evil to fall into another. The only real 
security is the getting near to Christ : we help other souls just 
so far as we put them in contact with Him. 

We have seen, then, that this great enemy of God will be 
permitted to do wonders in imitation of the power of Christ, 
and in support of his claim to be Jehovah. It is not surprising 
that he deceives those that dwell on the earth. And what 
rapidly prepares the way, and ripens men for all, is that they 
are now listening to Satan, who has been dissolving confidence 
in the miracles of Christ, and the scriptures which relate them. 
Thus, when men not only review but see the horrors of what 
has taken place in Christendom under their eyes, and when they 
are left without the love of the truth in their hearts, they will 
be at the mercy of Satan. Then, when men's desires are grati- 
fied without conscience, and God Himself in righteous retribu- 
tion sends strong delusion that they should believe the lie, 
(saying to them, so to speak, " You have refused the truth that 
you might be saved : now, then, have all you like,") — then this 
personage comes forward, and these wonders are done that affect 
to be signs from heaven. Is it amazing that they fall down and 
worship the beast and his image ? 

It is Satan, of course, who is behind the scenes; but his slave, 
the second beast, "deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by 
means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight 
of the beast: saying to them that dwell on the earth,* that they 

* I am not prepared to affirm that " the abomination of desolation," of which 
our Lord speaks in Matt, xxiv., referring to Daniel xii. 11, is the same as " the 
imago " before us. It is absurd to suppose that our Lord alluded to the defile- 
ment of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes. (Dan. xi. 31.) This was long past; 
whereas He is warning of another abomination yet future and final. Hence too 
it may be observed that the phrase given by the evangelist answers exactly (not 
to Dan. xi. 31, but) to chapter xii. 1 1 in the LXX. In Dan. viii. 13 it is another 
thing, " the transgression of desolation ;" and in Dan. ix. 27, though there may 
be a link of connexion, it is, I think, " because of the wing, i.e. (the protection) 
of abominations [there shall be] a desolator ;" a very distinct statement, oven if 
it be allowed to refer to the same time. The sense is that antichrist sets up 
idolatry in the temple, because of which a desolator appears in the person of the 

X 2 


should make an image to the beast which had the wound by a 
sword and did live. And he had power to give life [or breath] 
. . . that the image of the beast should both speak and cause* 
that as many as would not worship the image of the beast 
should be killed" (verses 14, 15). 

Observe, by the way, a further proof that this second beast is 
after the final rise of the first beast ; for he causes an image to 
be made " to the beast which had the wound by a sword and 
did live." " And he caused all, both small and great, rich and 
poor, free and bond, to receive! a mark on their right hand or 
on their forehead. And that no man might buy or sell, save he 
that had the mark, the name of the beast, or the number of his 
name" (verses 16, 17). That mark was a seal of subjection or 
slavery to the beast. 

" Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count 
the number of the beast ; for it is the number of a man, and 
his number [is] 666" (verse 18). I do not pretend to solve any 
such question as this. It would be easy to repeat what others 
have thought. Some of the early Christians, especially the 
pious Bishop of Lyons, Irenaeus, supposed that it was " the 
Latin man." Others have found various names, in accordance 
with their polemics and prejudices, llomanists discovered in it 
the enigma of Luther ; Protestants, the name of more than one 
Pope. Mahomet in ancient, and Napoleon in modern times, 
have been imagined. But are such notions better than conun- 
drums ? It is not the way of the Spirit to occupy God's people 

great northern enemy of Israel. The effort to apply it to the Romans under 
Titus, or to the Pope, is utterly vain. The former is probably due to the error 
of confounding Matt. xxiv. 16, &c., with Luke xxi. 21. It is the latter only who 
brings in the Roman siege and captivity, as he alone treats of the times of the 
Gentiles. Matthew on the other hand, equally inspired of God, leaves out this 
part of our Lord's great prophecy, and dwells at length on the closing crisis, in 
answer to the question of the end of the age, which Luke accordingly omits. 

* It is possible that the meaning may be, "that the imago of the boast should 
both speak and act [or practise]; in order that as many," &c. If so, the state- 
ment attributes to the beast's imago the same things which characterize the 
be<ast in verso 5. 

t Literally, " that they should give them," i.e., that a mark should be given 
them. Compare Rev. x. 11, "they say to mo," i.e., it is said. (See Lnko vi. 38 ; 
xii. 20 : xvi, 9, for a similar usage, the first and especially the last of wliich are 
often misunderstood.) 


with reckoning letters or numbers after this vague fashion. May 
we not be satisfied that this is one of the points of detail left 
for "the wise" of the latter day, and that when the time comes 
the clue Avill be given, and all the light that may be required ? 
Tor there is in the ways of God a sort of economy, at least when 
we come to matters of detail and application. Just as He does 
not give a saint the strength to bear him through a special trial 
till it is at the doors, so the Lord may only vouchsafe the 
needed instruction about this number when the man himself 

The application of the prophecy to a particular person will 
be the point then. It seems premature and useless to discuss 
such a question till the parties are on the stage. The wise shall 
understand then, and all will be as clear as day to them, but not 
to the wicked. (See Dan. xii.) The general truth, however, is 
plain. There is this second " beast," the active, energetic power 
that opposes Christ ; but when the day of reckoning comes, and 
the judgment of the Lord is upon him, he will be no longer 
spoken of as a beast, but as the " false prophet" that wrought 
miracles. (Eev. xix. 20.) Supposing the second beast to be 
antichrist, I am inclined to think that there is a spurious imi- 
tation of Christ in his causing the first beast to be worshipped. 
The Lord Jesus spake and wrought for the purpose of exalting 
God the Father, wdiile the Father Himself makes Christ the 
special object. "Let all the angels of God worship him" [the 
Son] ; and again, " that all men should honour the Son, even as 
they honour the Father." So it is with the beast. He will help 
to exalt the great world-power ; but withal he equally, and yet 
more in spiritual things, exalts himself He has horns like a 
lamb. That is, he pretends to the power of Christ. But he 
speaks as a dragon {i.e., the expression of his mind is Satanic). 
Being a beast, it is intimated that he is invested with temporal 
authority ; while he is also expressly designated a false prophet. 
Thus it is a personal antagonist of what Christ was and will be, 
rather than of what He is. Popery — Anti-Christendom, if you 
will — is a travesty of Christ's priesthood, and will perish with 
all that partakes its sin in the gainsaying of Korah. But here 
(when Christ, having closed His heavenly work, is about to 


assume His earthly royal dignity) is one who opposes and exalts 
himself in the city of the great king. For it is the Holy Land 
that is the central seat of his power and deceits. He is, I think, 
the person that the Lord Jesus referred to in contrast with Him- 
self in a passage just quoted in part, where He sums up all in a 
few little words (John v. 43) ; " I am come in my Father's name, 
and ye receive me not ; if another shall come in his own name, 
him ye will receive." The Jews would not have Him who came 
from the Father. His sent One and servant, though His equal 
in honour and power, had so come and been refused. But there 
was one whom they are to receive, one who will flatter and exalt 
man in sin ; for he will own no authority higher than his own, 
and this is the echo of man's will. Him I believe to be the per- 
sonage we have here — one who, as to actual territorial dominion 
and external splendour, may have a superior, but who in point 
of spiritual energy and weight is pre-eminent. 

Having already given so fully that which seems to me the 
true view of the very important chapter which has just occupied 
us, I need not say much of counter-expositions, many grounds 
of which have been already set aside by anticipation. Mr. 
Elliott is perhaps more than usually confident in his hypothesis 
that the beast from the sea represents the character and history 
of the Eoman Popes and Papal Christendom, and the two- 
horned beast the Papal clergy, with the image of the beast as 
the Papal councils. It is impossible to call this, at least, the 
Protestant interpretation. For even Luther made the first beast 
to be the Latin secular, the second the spiritual, power ; while 
Bullinger viewed the former as the Pagan Konian empire, as 
did Foxe. Brightman, no doubt, was even more zealous than 
;Mr. E., for he makes both beasts to set forth the Popes. But 
what is of more consequence, the learned Joseph Mede, and, as 
far as I can collect, Dr. Cressener, Jurieu and Daubuz certainly 
rejected these notions, regarding the first beast as the Eoman 
secular empire, and the second as the ecclesiastical beast, though 
with characteristic points of difference. So, in the main, Sir I. 
Newton. K we cncpiire of their successors nearer our own 
day, the case is no better by Mr. Elliott's own account. "The 


explanation of this first beast as the secular Eiwperor and 
Emjnre of Western Christendom, and of the second beast as 
the Pojje and Pontifical Umpire, so as most of our modern 
English expositors have taken it; (e.g., Faber, Cuninghame, 
Bickersteth, &c. ;) but I conceive to have been one of the most 
plain, as well as most fatal, of Protestant expository errors" 
(vol. iii. p. 109, note 2). Surely then, if so plain and fatal, Mr. 
E.'s elaborate array of evidence, and acute correction of the 
Protestant expository error, have been successful with every 
fair mind ! Alas ! no. Perhaps the chief independent ex- 
position, since the Horae Ajjoc, is the Rationale Apocalypticum 
of Mr. Alfred Jenour (2 vols. 8vo, 1852) ; and there I read that 
the wild beast from the sea " must symbolize an empire about 
to rise after the ancient Heathen empire had been destroyed, 
and which would be, as it were, tliat empire revived. It must 
represent too, I think, obviously a secular empire, not a spiritual 
or ecclesiastical dominion. There is nothing to indicate that it 
partakes in any degree of a spiritual or ecclesiastical character. 
And I cannot, therefore, but express my astonishment that so 
many commentators should have acquiesced in the interpretation 
which makes this sea-born wild beast the Papacy. There is not 
a single feature in the description of the beast itself that can 
with propriety be so applied. It is, as I have said, a secular not 
a spiritual power we have here delineated " (vol. ii. p. 75). 

On the one hand, then, I agree with Mr, Elliott that it is 
impossible fairly to interpret the beast from the sea of the 
empire founded by Clovis and completed by Charlemagne, 
Neither the seven heads nor the ten horns, neither the dragon- 
character, nor in any sense the duration, can bear a reasonable 
application to it. On the other hand, I am compelled to agree 
with the earliest down to the latest, and including some of the 
very ablest of Protestants, that not the Papacy is meant but 
the secular Pioman Empire. The conclusion is irresistible. 
Allowing an inconclusive accomplishment in the Papacy and its 
clerical supports, I steadily adhere to the conviction that the 
future alone can exhibit the fulfilment of all the features pre- 
dicted, without constraint and in all their strength. 

It is not true that the Papacy has the command of the 


Western powers which is here supposed, still less practises for 
1260 years with such unlimited dominion. It is not true that 
the Pope has authority given him over every kindred and 
people and tongue and nation, even if you confound this with 
(instead of distinguishing it from) the dwellers in the Eoman 
world. It is not true that the Pope is the object of all the 
world's wonder, nor that the confession is extorted, "Who is 
able to make war with him ?" Nor do all, save the elect, in 
Western Christendom worship him. Need I shew how palpably 
inapplicable is the second beast to those wolves in sheep's 
clothing, the Papal clergy ? Do they exercise the enormous 
power, all the power, of the first beast ? And in what fair 
sense do they perform gTeat miracles or signs, so as to make fire 
come down from heaven in men's sight ? Is it possible that 
any person, save blinded by system, could be content with such 
an accomplishment as the wicked and idolatrous figment of the 
mass, or the lightnings of the Vatican ? 

The Lord grant that we may deny ungodliness and worldly 
lusts, and this not only for wrath, but for conscience' sake ! Yea, 
may we be separated to Christ in a spirit of heavenly grace ! 
How base to think we can take care when the time comes ? 
Baser still, if possible, to plead that the church of God will be 
previously taken out of the way to heaven — that because all 
will be right then, we can afford to do wrong now ! Kemember, 
that meanwhile, as the apostle said, are there many antichrists, 
whereby we know that it is the last time. Now, if you are 
allowing the spirit of the world, or are trifiing with any of the 
influences of antichrist at the present moment, what would you 
do if exposed to all the fearful persecutions on the one hand, 
and to all the temptations on the other, of the day when the 
man of sin will be revealed ? God's grace might strengthen me 
to face all danger, and to refuse every blandishment, rather than 
abjure the true and worship the false God and Christ. But is 
it not most solemn and humbling if I join (no matter what the 
motive) in any fellowship with known evil ? 

And here is the great, moral, present value of prophecy. I 
see the frightful fall at the end, and can trace the stream that 


runs down to it. Perhaps the way is long and winding, and the 
river does not seem so perilous ; but look a little lower down, 
where the word of God lifts up the misty vail which shrouds 
the future, and behold the fatal speed with which all who float 
there are engulphed to their utter destruction ! There are many 
currents connected with the world, and I may not see in their 
sources and first flowings the full extent of the evil which is 
the inevitable result. In prophecy God graciously shews me 
the end from the beginning ; so that, if I heed it not, I am 
dishonouring the warning of His love, who would have me 
" knowing these things before." Let us also beware not merely 
of one evil, but of its every form : especially let us not meddle 
with it wherever it assumes a Christ-like form in association with 
the world. Here we have the end of the open, blasphemous 
power, as well as of the more active and subtle spiritual evil of 
the crisis. * Men will be caught in one or other of these snares 
— the bold infidelity or the religious pravity of the last days. 
However they may differ in appearance, they are found in the 
strictest, saddest, most fatal union at the close. The Lord grant 
that our hearts may be kept looking to Christ and waiting for 
Him from heaven ! There is no full comfort or blessing, except 
so far as the eye is single to Him. 

* It is not surprising that those who are greatly occupied with present things 
feel the deepest amazement and abhorrence, not at the antichrist as futurists 
depict it, but at Popery as it has been and is, with its recognition of so much 
revealed truth, and withal its destruction of the efficacy of redemption and of 
all immediate relationship with God, not to speak of its hideous idolatries and 
its systematic persecution of those who do not bow to it, let them be saints or 
not. But the more such minds bring out its subtle hypocrisy, the more they 
seem to prove that Eomanism corresponds with the mystery of iniquity. Of 
course, its working in apostolic days was but a germ of what afterwards went 
on, till it issued in that frightful corruption which Protestants have done faith- 
ful service in exposing with unquestionable vigour and earnestness. Hence, in 
Kev. xvii. it is the corrupt woman (not the ravening beast) whose name is 
" Mysterj', Babylon the great, the mother of the harlots and of the abominations 
of the earth." And observe, it was the sight of the woman which caused John 
to wonder so exceedingly. Still, "the apostacy," as I read scripture, implies 
the public renunciation of Christian truth, not an orthodox maintenance of the 
cardinal facts, at any rate, of the gospel, such as Romanism holds up ; and the 
session and worship of the man of sin in the temple of God implies a defiance 
of Jehovah, under the false expectation of Israel, which looks onward to another 
and more daring form of Satan's power. 



This chapter is the concluding one of the episode that separates 
the trumpets from the vials. We heard the events under the 
last trumjDet announced ; but the details and the means of their 
actual accomplishment were not revealed to us. There were 
songs in heaven celebrating its results; but the immediate effect 
of the last trumpet on earth was only spoken of in a general 
way ; and this going down to the end of all, including even the 
final judgment of the dead.* 

Then the Holy Ghost, as we have seen, in chapters xii. xiii., 
turns aside to shew us the source, character, and leading instru- 
ments of the last outbi-eak of evil, on which the vials were to be 
poured out, after which the Lord is to act in personal vengeance. 
We are come, let us suppose, in some comprehensive history, to 
an account of a battle whicli decides the fate of the world at 
any time. The author stops to describe the previous state of the 
parties and the causes that led to the crisis. Exactly so with 
what we have here : the earnest of retribution, as it were, is 
given us under the vials. Thus, chapters xii. and xiii., not to 

* Hence it is going too far, and indeed not only without proof but inaccurate, 
to say that the vials are the evolution of the seventh trumpet. It is of no weight 
to allege that the trumpets are the development of the last seal. This I doubt 
not, because there is absolutely nothing under that seal, save a half-hour's 
silence in heaven, and then the trumpets are given to the seven angels, &c. But 
there is nothing analogous at the close of Rev. xi. For on the face of the matter, 
chapters xii. xiii. xiv. intervene, the last of which couUiins the vision of a scene 
of judgment by tlie Son of man, which is unquestionably subsequent to the vials. 
Again, what more fanciful than the opistho-grapliic theory (llorae Apocali/pticae, 
vol. i. p. 99 ; iii. p. 'i), that is, the notion that the writing iril/iniit and within 
answers to the twofold series of visions, one of which, relating to matter chiefly 
Hcvular, ends in chapter xi,, and the other of which, chiefly ecclesiastical, begins 
after that? Certainly, neitlu^r Ezekiel ii. 9, 10, nor Zechariah v. 1-3 lends the 
slightest countenance to it, but rather the contrary. 


speak of chapter xiv., shew us what it was that led to such a 
dreadful out-pouring of God's wrath. So that, though they may 
appear to be an interruption, it was necessary for impressing on 
us adequately the horribleness of the evil the Lord was dealing 
with. We saw in chapter xii. that Satan was the mighty and 
subtle spring behind the scene, hating and opposing Christ and 
His people from the very beginning. Then there was the war in 
heaven between Michael and the dragon, with their respective 
angels ; and finally the conduct of Satan, when cast down unto 
the earth, was traced and explained. Again, chapter xiii. shews 
us that, just as God revealed Himself to man, not only in tables 
of stone, but in the person of His Son, in order that men might 
see divine grace so as no tables of stone could display it (but 
rather the reverse), and that they might hear it in their own 
familiar tones ; so Satan finds a policy suited to his ends, in 
taking up men on earth and making them the instruments and 
expression of his will. Accordingly he acts by the two beasts 
which represent two great systems or their leaders that will be 
at work during the short season of our adversary's great wrath 
on earth. The violence of the world and its pride and blasphemy 
are set forth by the beast that rises out of the sea. The beast 
from the earth is as much suited to ensnare men who desire a 
religion which excludes God and panders to man and the world, 
as the other intimidated them by its power, or enticed them by 
its appeals to their ambition and love of outward show. 

But then the question arises. If Satan is so busy himself and 
his instruments, what is God doing ? Is He inactive — indifferent 
He could not be — all this time ? Chapter xiv. seems to be the 
answer to that question. The perversion of everything God has 
given to man, and of all Satan can devise, will come to a fearful 
issue then in a few short months and years. Dreadful as it all 
is, and though God will have seemingly given up the world, 
just to see what Satan and men together will make of it, yet 
none the less God even then and there will be at work. And 
first, it is not now the heavens, nor the earth, nor the sea: none 
of these is the ground or scene of what is brought before us in 
the early verses of this chapter. There is a new spot introduced 
— one not mentioned before, yet a most important one and full 


of significance. " And I looked, and, lo ! the Lamb stood on the 
mount Sion." Now let us just pause for a moment and enquire 
what are the ideas that the Holy Ghost conveys by or connects 
with the hill of Zion. The Apocalypse everywhere supposes an 
acquaintance with the other parts of the word of God, from 
Genesis even to the close of the New Testament, It would be 
difficult to find any part of scripture that is not required in order 
to come to a full understanding of this wonderful prophecy. 

Let us take the present allusion to Zion as an instance. If I 
do not know what God teaches elsewhere by mount Zion, how 
shall I understand what is meant by this opening vision of Eev, 
xiv. ? The first occasion where Zion comes into view is in the 
history of David, when he became king over all Israel. (2 Sam. 
V.) And what was the state of the people then? Israel had 
previously chosen a king after their own heart; one that re- 
flected them, that could go at their head and fight their battles. 
" We will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the 
nations." Saul was their choice, David the elect of God. Not 
that David did not need the mercy and forgiveness of God ; for 
indeed after God's favour to him he fell grievously. Beyond 
question, however, David entered into and responded to the 
thoughts of God in a most remarkable way. He sinned, it is 
true, but who felt and owned his sin more thoroughly? Who 
more than he vindicated God against himself ? Neither, on the 
other hand, did God make light of his sin because he delighted 
in David. The deed was secret, but it was published upon the 
housetop. He had dealt treacherously with his faithful servant, 
and had defiled his servant's house. And what a tale of sorrow 
did his own house shew for many a long year afterwards ! (2 Sam. 
xii.) It was then under David, when Israel had been in con- 
fusion, when the priests had corrupted them and the king had 
wrought no deliverance, when all were in rebellion against God 
and constantly exposed to the razzias and tyranny of their 
Philistine neighbours. All was in ruin ; the sanctuary, in what 
a state was it! The very tabernacle and the ark of God were 
severed. Thus, in all respects, sacred and political, great and 
small, public and private, the picture was most dismal. And it 
was then that God began to work energetically by His Spirit in 


the people. Justly were they suffering under the law which they 
had undertaken at Sinai. True, there was mercy and faithful- 
ness too, in the midst of all, on God's part ; but still evil was 
fast increasing, and in Israel there was no hope and no resource. 
And what then ? God calls David out step by step, and Zion 
acquires a most marked place in his history. It was there 
David's city was built, the seat of his royalty. It may not be 
thought much of now in the world, but in one sense all the 
blessing of this world as such is suspended over that little spot; 
and never will there be rest or glory for the earth until the city, 
which was a stay in the downward progress of Israel, and was 
meant to be a resting-place for faith, shall by and by be taken 
up by God. In the Psalms and the Prophets it constantly re- 
appears, the Spirit of Christ ever leading on the hearts of the 
saints to anticipate the full result which the early type promised 
as it were in the germ. 

In Hebrews xii. the Holy Ghost refers to it, though perhaps 
in a different way. Still the great thought is the intervention 
of God's grace. The passage contrasts the position of Israel 
with that of the Christian ; and, after having described the 
vision of Sinai, with its blackness, and darkness, and tempest — 
all most terrible even to the mediator, it proceeds : — " But ye 
are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, 
the heavenly Jerusalem," &c. Now there we see just the same 
great and precious principle. Israel had come to Sinai, and that 
was the mountain that characterised their whole course from 
beginning to end. And what was the result of it? As it 
began with darkness and distance, so it ended with misery and 
death. As they were and Sinai was, they could not but shrink 
back from God ; for there God was in His majesty of judgment 
— not in the love that comes down and puts itself under the 
burden, in order to take it away. That could not be at Sinai ; 
for there it was a just God in the presence of sinners only; and 
therefore He could but overawe and fill all with terror and the 
forebodings of judgment. Bounds must be set round the moun- 
tain. If even an unconscious beast touched it, death was the 
penalty : and this was Sinai. " But ye are come," says the 
Spirit, " unto mount Sion," the mountain of God's intervention 


in grace, as Sinai was of man's responsibility ; and witli Sinai, 
what could be the effect for the sinner ? Only to press his con- 
science with the terror of death. The Israelite was as good as 
a dead man, when he stood there, being already a sinner ; and 
death would be as surely executed, after he left the burning 
mount. The Apostle shews the Christian ground of grace, the 
exact opposite of man trembling before a God who righteously 
demanded what the flesh could not do. Now, it is God who 
has come down — it is God who has accomplished His work of 
love. When Zion first appeared by name, it was when Israel — 
people, priests, king — had utterly failed. Then God entered 
unsought, established the king of his own choice in Zion, and 
raised him and his son to such a pitch of glory as never was or 
will be in Israel again, till the true David comes and plants His 
royal glory on Zion, never more to be moved. 

The principle involved in Zion, then, is God's activity for His 
people in the way of grace, when all was lost under the law. 
This gives the mountain of Zion its true force in Eev. xiv. It 
is the gracious interference of God on behalf of those who sit 
with the holy sufferer — the Lamb. God acts for His Son, 
securing His glory on earth and gathering round Him in heart 
a remnant, not merely sealed as the servants of God (like a 
similar band out of the twelve tribes of Israel in chapter vii.), 
but brought into association with the Lamb in Zion, that is, with 
God's royal purposes in grace. These seem to me sufferers of 
Judah, who pass through the unequalled tribulation, which it 
is not said that the other remnant do. This is what is meant 
by their standing with the Lamb on the mount Zion. There 
St. John saw them. Of course, I do not mean that in fact 
they will be on Zion, or that they will necessarily understand 
what this symbol sets forth. The question is, what God was 
conveying to John's mind or to any who desire to understand 
the sayings of this book. It was, I believe, God's special in- 
terference on behalf of His people in the last days. He will 
associate with the Lord Jesus Christ, as the suffering Messiah, 
a full, numbered, godly remnant, who will be brought into 
fellowship with Him. There stand in the vision the hundred 
and forty -four thousand, having the Lamb's name and His 

THE lamb's name AND HIS FATHER'S. 319 

Father's name written on their foreheads. It is not said that 
they know God as their Father. The Eevelation never con- 
templates us in the position of children, much less does it so 
present the Jewish remnant. Thus, even when speaking of 
the church, we are said to be made kings and priests unto 
God and His Father, rather than ours. And this is the more 
remarkable in John, because no other evangelist takes so much 
pains to shew the relationship of children in which God has put 
us before Himself now. Thus, in John xx., directly the Lord is 
risen from the dead, the message to His disciples is, " Go to my 
brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your 
Father, and to my God and your God." Nothing of this appears 
here, because the Eevelation is not so much intended to open 
our nearness of relationship to God as our Father, but rather 
His judgment and glory, though with mercy for a remnant. I 
speak of the prophetic and earthly portion — not, of course, of 
that which gives us a glimpse of things above. Thus, the name 
of the Lamb and the name of His Father (for so it ought to be 
read) written on their foreheads is in contrast with the name of 
the beast in chapter xiii. The beast's name or mark was put on 
the right hand or forehead of his followers. The Lamb's name 
and His Father's these hundred and forty -four thousand have 
on their foreheads — not in their hearts only, if we may so 
speak ; they were evidently and openly the Lamb's. 

" And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many 
waters, and as the voice of loud thunder:* and the voice which 

* "A voice," says Mr. Elliott {H. A., vol. iii. p. 312), "as of many waters, and 
of a great thunder, — that is of people and princes, — uniting to swell it. There 
can he no question, I conceive, as to some happy crisis in the earthly fortunes of 
Christ's saints and people heing so prefigured; — some crisis during the Papal 
heast's reign, or at least hefore his destruction." And this he goes on to expound 
of the Reformation. Let the reader turn to Kev. i., and ask himself the con- 
sistency of such an interpretation of the " voice as the sound of many waters." 
What room is there for dragging in "^people" here? and what more for 
"princes" in chapter vi. 1, where the living creature, as with voice of thunder, 
summons the rider on the white horse ? No reason, indeed, is more decisive 
against so earthly a view, than that which is furnished by the very text which 
Mr. E. would have us compare (/.e. Rev. xix. 6) ; for surely if ever there can be 
conceived a moment when princes and people are not in unison with heaven's 
new anthem of praise, it is in the crisis which follows the destruction of Babylon 
and precedes their own still more awful fate in the war with the Lamb. 


I heard [was] as it were of harpers, harping with their harps. 
And they sing [as it were] a new song before the throne, and 
before the four living creatures and the elders ; and none could 
learn that song but the hundred forty [and] four thousand that 
were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not 
defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are they that 
follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed 
from among men, first-fruits to God and to the Lamb" (ver. 2-4). 
Thus they are characterized, besides learning the new song of 
heaven, negatively by their holy separateness from all the various 
kinds of idolatry which will then prevail on earth, and positively 
by their faithful allegiance to the Lamb, whatever the fiery trial. 
Instead of becoming the slaves of the beast, they were redeemed 
for the earth's first-fruits to God and the Lamb. They are a 
very peculiar class, a sort of link between heaven and the earth 
from which they were redeemed. They were untainted by the 
corrupt influences of that evil day, and especially are they free 
from the idolatries that will be one of its most grievous marks. 
I do not mean idolatry in a vague or virtual sense (as we are 
warned against covetousness, which is such morally), but posi- 
tive, literal idolatry. Many may think it absurd to talk about 
the worship of idols reappearing in lands neither popish nor 
pagan; but this would only shew how little man's heart is 
known and the power of Satan. The word of God is perfectly 
explicit that the last days will be characterized by the grossest 
spirit of idolatry, and this in the most enlightened parts of 
Christendom, yea, in Jerusalem itself, which will then put forth 
once more the highest pretensions. It is an apostacy that the 
heart of man is quite capable of, and to which Christendom will 
be given up by God, as a just retribution for refusing the love 
of the truth that they might be saved. " And for this cause God 
shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie." 
lie will give them up to their own natural lusts ; and the heart 
prefers any and every thing to God. 

Tlie saints, associated to the prophet's eye with the Lanilt (»ii 
Zion, are said not to be defiled with women ; i.e., they were 
preserved from the corruptions that surrounded them. They 
walked in virgin purity. Neither do they wonder after the 


beast. These are tliey which follow the Lamb whithersoever he 
goeth, " They were redeemed from among men, first-fruits to 
God and to the Lamb." They were first-fruits : the harvest 
would follow in due course. (See verses 14, 16.) "And in their 
mouth was found no guile [or rather no lie, vj/evSos], for they are 
without fault." It is added in our common Bible, " before the 
throne of God" (verse 5) ;* but these last words ought not to 
be there. The best authorities leave them out : and a slight 
consideration will shew how wrongly inserted they seem to be. 
" They are without fault," or blameless, it is true ; but " blame- 
less" here refers, I think, to their practical conduct. If com- 
pared with men from whom they were redeemed, such they 
were. In their presence they were without fault. But suppose 
God puts them before His throne to search into what they have 
been here, measured by His holiness — this is another thing. 
There I need forgiveness; there I need to stand, not in my own 
blamelessness, but made the righteousness of God in Christ. If 
I stand as an individual, viewed not in Christ but according to 
my actual ways, shall I say that I am blameless here ? It may 

* It is curious that Mr. EUiott {H. A., iii. part iv. chapter x.), though he 
rightly rejects or doubts the clause ivM-mov rov Gpovov tov Oiov, nevertheless 
repeatedly, both in Greek and English, inserts another clause which has abso- 
lutely no warrant, as far as I know. He says in the text of p. 311 (and also in 
p. 323), " they were without fault before God," and then in the foot-note gives 
afiixjfioi evojwiov tov Qeov. He adds, "Compare my observation on the words 
ii'ujTTiov TOV 9r]piov, said in Apoc. xiii. of the lambskin-covered beast's responsi- 
bility to the boast antichrist as his supervisor, p. 206-208 supra. The words 
within brackets are implied if not expressed." Now, while I do not question that 
politicallj' the second beast subserves the first, I demur to the proof drawn from 
this phrase. Thus, Rev. i. 4 — the first occurrence of svuttiov in the book — is 
adverse. Subordination is not the idea. As little does the next occurrence, Rev. 
iv. 14, bear him out: indeed it refutes the inference. Balaam taught Balak to 
cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel — certainly not under their 
cognizance and judgment. Compare also Rev. iii. 8, 9 ; iv. 6. ; xii. 4, 10. Nay, 
in chapter xiii., the verse which follows the one on which Mr. E. dwells is in 
mj^ judgment a sufficient answer. For while verse 12, if justly so interpreted, 
would suit the papal supremacy, how square it with verse 13 P For there we 
have the signs or miracles wrought ivwTrioj/ raii' avOpwTrwi/, before men. If Mr. 
E.'s theory of what is "presignified by this little word" in verse 12 be applied 
to verse 13, it would teach the Protestant principle of private judgment, quite as 
much as the other justifies " Coram Fctro." The truth is that the view has no 



make this a little clearer, if we remember 1 John i., " If we say 
that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not 
in us ;" we do not know the truth about ourselves, and we have 
no fellowship with Christ in discerning the evil that is there. 
But " if we say that we have not sinned," we make God a liar, 
which is far worse than deceiving ourselves. We make Him a 
liar, and His word is not in us ; for He has declared the contrary 
over and over. But in chapter iii. of the same epistle, what a 
change ! " He that committeth sin is of the devil ;" and " who- 
soever is born of God doth not commit sin, and he cannot sin, 
because he is born of God. In this the children of God are 
manifest and the children of the devil." How can we reconcile 
these two things ? How account for the immense difference of 
the language in chapters i. and iii. ? Most simply. In chapter i. 
the Holy Ghost is leading the Christian to view himseK in the 
light of God's presence : he is before the Father and the Son, 
He stands before God, if I may so say — not exactly before the 
throne — but before the Father and the Son. And what will a 
man say when he stands there ? Will he say, I have no sin ; I 
have not sinned ? None there wiU say it. Whoever says so 
here proves that the truth is not in him — tliat the word has 
never searched him. But when God compares His child with 
those who do not know Himself after a divine sort. He says, 
" he doth not commit sin," and " he cannot sin." 

See Numbers. There we perceive Israel in a state of great 
disorder and faibire, every form of unbelief and unfaithfulness 
in their journeying. But the moment an enemy comes forward, 
and comes to curse the people of God — that same Israel which 
had tempted and provoked Him ten times and more, what does 
He say then ? Why, that He has not belield iniquity in Jacob, 
neither has He seen perverseness in Israel ! " Jehovah his God 
is with him, and the shout of a king is among them." In the 
very persons with whom He had found fault so often, when 
speaking to themselves. He can see none now. Let Satan and 
the world take in hand to damage His people, and all His lieart 
is in movement on their behalf. 

As this verse stands now in the common text, with the words 
"before the throne of God" added to it, we could only under- 


stand it as being true in Christ ; but here the sense requires, if 
I mistake not, that it be practical conduct. God looks at them 
as undefiled and truthful, because they have been kept by grace 
from all the idols of Babylon and the delusive power of the 
beast ; and thus they are blameless. I only notice this to shew- 
that many of these little changes add to the great sum of 
Christian truth. Every blot or error which creeps into the word 
of God will be found to impair its accuracy and to detract from 
its perfect beauty. 

The second thing that we note in the chapter is an angel 
flying in the midst of heaven, having everlasting glad tidings 
to preach unto them that dwell [or, literally, that sit] on the 
earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. 
I am aware that some have applied this to the great spread of 
evangelical missions to the heathen in these last days. But 
is it the way to understand prophecy — ever striving to find some 
present accomplishment of it ? We must look at the context as 
a whole. If no such thing be admitted as a new group of suffering 
Jews, connected with Christ in the hope of the kingdom in 
Israel, it is in vain to look for the angel with the everlasting 
gospel in the missionary efforts of the last half century. Nor 
would the message itself in any way suit the present purposes 
of God. The ground on which the angel appeals to them is 
that the hour of God's judgment is come. Is this the case 
now ? Evidently not. Is not the day of grace in full con- 
trast with the hour of judgment ? It is still true that " now is 
the accepted time ; behold, now is the day of salvation." As yet 
the door is open. It is forcing scripture to say "the hour 
of liis judgment is come." But when the time for the accom- 
plishment of this arrives, it will be the sure warning of the 
Lord for men. For then the closing judgments are about to be 
executed, and the outpouring of God's wrath is just at hand. 
Now you cannot reconcile all this with the day of blessing and 
grace, as if they could both run on together. And yet there 
are those who say we are in the midst of the vials ! But this 
(where it is understood not partially, but in full and finally) 
indicates the almost total eclipse which befalls the trutli in the 

Y 2 


minds of men, when they can suppose that tlie day of God's 
grace and tlie hour of His judgment are the same thing, or can 
be at the same time. 

And when we proceed a little closely to examine the message 
itself, w^e find that it has altogether another sound from the glad 
tidings which God is proclaiming now. Does it call souls every- 
where to repent, because God has raised up a man from the 
dead by whom He will judge the world in righteousness ? (Acts 
xvii. 31.) Thus Paul preached in his day ; and thus it is right 
to preach now a Christ dead, risen, and coming agaiu to judge 
the world. It speaks of the hour of divine judgment, but there 
is not a word about a risen man — nothing about a Saviour or 
His redemption. " Tear God, and give glory to him ; for the 
hour of his judgment is come : and worship him that made 
heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" 
(verse 7). Now, I ask, is this the kind of message that would 
suit to go about the country with ? Telling persons to worship 
God that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and fountains of 
waters ? Everlastingly true as it is, is it the special message 
now ? God forbid that the creation-glory of God should be 
denied ! It is exceedingly important ; but its proper application 
is when God has finished the work, now in hand, of saving and 
calling out the church (Christ's body) for heavenly glory. When 
Satan has accomplished his great purpose of making men not 
only reject the true God when He came as man, but worship 
a man as God on earth, what will not be the urgent need and 
value of that message then ? It will be the contradiction given 
to eveiything the beast and the dragon conspire to bring in. 
When all this iniquitous false worship is going on, it will re- 
quire positive faith in the one living and true God not to give 
way and fall under the power of the delusion. For Satan will 
have made it to be at the peril of a man's life and subsistence 
not to yield. 

And so here is this message sent : " Fear God, and give glory 
to him." All tlie world had sunk in idolatry, worshipping the 
beast and falling down before him. Satan could not prevail on 
the Son of God to fall down and worship him ; but he will have 
the beast as his tool, and all the world is drawn after him. 


"Worship him that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and 
the fountains of waters." These are the claims of God to 
supreme worship at the time when "the earth" will be com- 
pletely carried away by the anti-christian delusion. 

But persons may ask, "Why is it called everlasting glad 
tidings or gospel?" Perhaps because it is always true. It 
has been so from the beginning, and up to the close it must be 
unchanged. " Fear God, and give glory to him." The peculiar 
ground on which it is put here (" for the hour of his judgment 
is come") could not always apply. But still the word, "Fear God 
.... worship him that made heaven and earth" (that is, the 
glory of God proved or witnessed in creation), is of course 
always a standing, fundamental truth. But it will be emphati- 
cally regarded and brought out when Satan has gained over the 
world to deny the true God, and to worship a creature instead 
of the Creator. 

The seventh verse is pretty plain; but I add a few words more 
with regard to the term " gospel." It is used in scripture with 
much more latitude than men are now accustomed to. The glad 
tidings to Israel in the wilderness held out that they should 
inherit the land of promise. It was glad tidings to Abraham 
that in him should all nations be blessed. (Gal. iii. 8.) The 
glad tidings in the time of John the Baptist, and preached by 
him, meant in substance that the kingdom of heaven was at 
hand. So also the Lord Himself preached and His disciples 
during His ministry on earth. But the people would not have 
Him ; and the consequence was that, though the kingdom was 
set up, it was so in a way that differed emphatically from what 
the people expected who looked for it. It was set up in the 
person of the rejected King in heaven, till He comes again in 
power, when it will be established manifestly over the earth. 
Thus we have different messages, different glad tidings, accord- 
ing to the various subjects or hopes that God was presenting 
at different times. But the everlasting gospel necessarily was 
before Abraham, or any other of these special glad tidings. It 
has always been, and must be, that God is the only worthy 
object of worship. " There is none good but one — God." And 
when the blessed day does dawn — when the King comes in His 


glory — when the kingdom prepared before the foundation of the 
world will be enjoyed — when God wili have His blessed ones 
around Him from the north and south, from the east and from 
the west (not only the risen ones, but also those in tlieir natural 
bodies who will be spared and be blessed on the earth, at the 
same time that the risen saints will enjoy heavenly glory under 
the headship of the only One who can concentrate all in bless- 
ing), what will be the due and needed message previously ? 
Why this : "Fear God, and give glory to him." Evidently then 
it is called with perfect reason, " the everlasting gospel." You 
will observe that it is sent "to them that dwell on the earth," 
as well as " to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and 
people;" thus keeping up the distinction that we have noticed 
before. They will both hear the testimony ; but if those " who 
dwell on the earth" will not receive it, through the mercy of 
God the nations, kindreds, tongues, and people will in part 
receive it. (Compare Psalm xcvi. and Matt. xxiv. 14 with the 
results in chapter xxv. 31-46.) 

After this comes another message — the fall of Babylon. I 
do not mean to dwell on it just now, as we shall find a great 
deal about that city in other chapters of this book ; for Baby- 
lon was so important as to require a special notice to itself. 
But as it was evidently the active source of corruption, in- 
toxicating men and drawing them away from the living God, so 
now He sends this, the death-knell of Babylon. The object 
here, probably, was to give its place in the order of God's 
dealings at the close of the dispensation, its relation to what 
went before and to what follows after (verse 8). 

In the next place, we have the solemn warning to those who 
worshipped the beast and received his mark, the sure and 
everlasting torment of all who were thus carried away by him. 
There are many who apply these prophecies about Babylon and 
the beast in an exclusive way to liome ; but while the seven- 
hilled city has many of the principles of Babylon and the 
beast, yet it is impossible to find their complete and united 
fulfilment in Popery as it now is or has been. Besides, the 
beast and Babylon are not the same thing ; for the beast destroys 


Babylon. And will Rome destroy itself? Certainly, the 
elements of Babylon are to be found there; but if the matter 
be looked at more closely, all cannot be found in Rome. For 
my own part, I believe that Rome, more than any other system, 
already is in a very true moral sense Babylon, and that it will 
yet contain and manifest all the elements of that vile cor- 
ruptress. But for this very reason it cannot be the beast ; for 
the beast it is which destroys Babylon, and after that the beast, 
falling into its own worst and open rebellion against God, 
perishes. The worst state of the beast is after Babylon has 
been destroyed ; for then it exalts itself to heaven, only to be 
cast down to hell ; but we shall have the fall of both fully by 
and by. "Here is the patience of the saints" (verses 9-12). 

The fifth division is the word touching the saints that die in 
the Lord. " And I heard a voice from heaven saying, Write, 
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: 
Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours ; 
and their works do follow with them" (verse 13). It does not 
mean those who die throughout the present dispensation. When 
Christian people die now, it is blessed ; but here the Spirit 
speaks of a future class, all of whom will die. You must take 
these things connected together as a whole — not a little bit that 
suits present circumstances, leaving out the rest which does not. 
AVhat is the real meaning of the verse ? What is God's mind ? 
It is the saints who die in that day. Many will be killed : the 
blood of the saints will flow. The everlasting glad tidings had 
been announced ; the hour of judgment was come, as the angel 
proclaimed ; so that it might seem a dreadful thing for persons 
to be killed just when God is going to introduce His kingdom. 
But, on the contrary, the voice says, " Blessed are the dead 
which die in the Lord from henceforth." Do not be alarmed by 
it. They will only get a better kind of glory. What will be 
the portion of those that die in the Lord then ? They will 
reign with Christ and His heavenly saints. Chapter xx. proves 
that those who die under the persecutions of the beast will be 
raised again to join the heavenly saints that will have been 
taken away before. "Blessed are the dead," &c., cannot in 
strictness apply to the church, because all belonging to the 


church will not die. Some will be alive and remaining at the 
coming of the Lord, who are to be changed without passing 
through death ; whereas these are persons who all die, as a 
class. It refers exclusively to those who die in the Lord at that 
time ; and shews that, instead of losing their place in the king- 
dom of Christ, they will gain an advanced position of blessing. 
Their company also is complete, and their full blessedness just 
coming without further waiting — blessed from henceforth (verse 

The spirit of it may be applied now ; but the intention of the 
Holy Ghost seems to have been the comfort of persons who 
will die before the beast is judged and the heavenly glory 
appears. It might be thought that they had lost something; 
but it is not so. The voice from heaven says, " Write, Blessed 
henceforth the dead that die in the Lord : Yea, saith the Spirit, 
that they may rest from their labours ; and their works do 
follow them." The Holy Glhost adds His "Yea" of sweet 
sympathy, true to the saints in joy and in sorrow, groaning with 
their infirmities, and rejoicing with their speedy triumph and 

Then follow the two closing scenes of this chapter. The first 
is the vision of one like the Son of man* sitting on a white 
cloud, " having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a 
sharp sickle." It is a vision grounded upon the idea of a 
harvest : that is, it is a separating judgment (verses 14-16). 
There is that which must be cast away, and that which will be 
gathered in. Perhaps with this we may compare what is said 
in the Gospels — " one shall be taken and the other left ; so shall 
it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." (Luke xvii.) 
In the next judgment, we have a different character of dealing. 

* Mr. Jenour revives a doubt as to "the Son of man," and suggests an 
application, symbolically, to the Jews then to be converted, and the groat 
evangelists of that day! just as Vitringa long ago applied it to those princes, 
&c., whom God employed at the Reformation in executing his dealings in 
providence ! But there is no force in the objection that St. John would hardly 
have said of Christ "one like to the Son of man." For it is exactly what he 
does say in chapter i., whore beyond controversy our Lord alone can be meant. 
Likeness to a character, rather than to a person, is meant ; and hence the phrase 
is anarthrous, as in Dan. vii. 13. 


It is the vintage of the earth, not its harvest. There is no good, 
and therefore no separation here. In the harvest there was ; 
but when you come to the vintage, a more serious state is found. 
It is not the genuine vine, but the "vine of the earth." The 
Lord Jesus is the only true vine : and if we are fruit-bearing 
branches, it must be by abiding in Him. But here it is " the 
vine of the earth." And what does the Lord do with this vine 
of the earth and its clusters? There is nothing but unmixed 
judgment — no mercy whatever to mitigate it. The fruit is 
gathered and cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 
Then follows the image of unsparing judgment. "The wine- 
press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the 
winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a 
thousand and six hundred furlongs."* It is an awful figure of 
carnage — blood flowing in a deep stream for about 200 miles. 
This is not to be taken in a mere literal way ; but the great 
idea which God presents is that of a judgment where there is 
nothing but wrath to the very uttermost upon the apostates. 
Who ever heard of such a thing in any history of human 
events ? It is entirely beyond all that man could execute. 
When the reality comes, it will be still more terrible than 
the figure, which has passed as a prophetic picture before 
the eye of the prophet (verses 17-20). The bloodshed might 
be of religious apostates from all parts of Christendom ; but it 
appears to be especially Jewish, as the scene is the land. The 
winepress was trodden without the city — i.e., I suppose, Jeru- 
salem. (Compare Joel iii.) 

In Isa. Ixiii. we have the Lord treading the winepress, but it 
appears to be a more distant scene. There He is coming from 
Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah. Here it is " without 
the city," and vengeance on those who had been religiously 
guilty in connexion with it. They had heard of mercy, but it 
had been despised ; and now the judgment is come, and for them 
there is nothing else. The mercy had been only abused ; and 
what is there that God so feels and judges ? 

* Jerome remarked the coincidence of this with the length of Palestine, and 
Fuller, Faher, &c., applj^ it literally to that land, as the great future Aceldama. 
Made, on the other hand (as we are told in the Horae Ajyoc), suggests the fact 
of a similar length in the States of the Church from Rome to Verona. 


In this chapter, then, we have the full outline of the dealings 
of God in the latter-day crisis. There are seven divisions of it. 
First, there is the full remnant of godly Jews associated with 
the Lamb on mount Sion, in sympathy with His sufferings and 
waiting for the kingdom. Secondly, a testimony to the Gentile 
nations scattered all over the world as well as to those seated on 
the prophetic earth. Thirdly, the fall of Babylon. Fourthly, the 
fearful doom, both in this world and in the next, of such as 
should worship the beast and his image, or receive the mark 
of his name. Fifthly, the blessedness from that time of those 
that die in the Lord. Sixthly, the discriminating process of the 
harvest. And seventhly, the awful intlictiou of vengeance on 
religious apostacy ; the first, at least, of these two last acts of 
judgment being executed by the Son of man, which necessarily 
supposes the very close of the age: the wrath, not of God only, 
but of the Lamb. 

Thus the sevenfold series appears in this sketch of the final 
ways of God, whether of mercy or of judgment. It is thoroughly 
in accordance with the Kevelation. We have had seven seals, 
seven trumpets, as there are also seven vials. Here too, though 
not formally numbered, we have the seven dealings of God that 
make up a complete account ; but the details, as they are given 
afterwards, may come before us another time. Although it is 
not about us, yet what a mercy it is to feel that we do not 
always require to think about ourselves when reading the Bible ! 
Many suppose it a very spiritual thing to be always asking. 
What is there for me ? But we ought to desire all the blessing 
that God can give us, and not merely a little Zoar. " Open thy 
mouth wide, and I will fill it," saith Jehovah. If I desire to 
have my cup running over, and thus to be strengthened in 
serving Him, I shall want to know all that God can tell me 
about Christ. And is it not something, and good for me, to 
know that Christ is to have His complete remnant, not merely 
when glory comes, but before it comes, associated in their 
measure with Him in suffering — like David when he came to 
mount Zion ? Then who were they that shared liis honours ? 
Those who had been the companions of liis rejection. So here 
with these 144,000. They will not have the same heavenly 


glory that is reserved for the church of the first-born ; for either 
we have the very best blessings now, or none. All Christians 
stand now in the most glorious privileges which it is possible 
for children of God to enjoy. Whatever its pretensions, it is a 
time when Christ is thoroughly rejected by the world. God 
desires that we should find treasure enough in Christ to despise 
the world — to put its bribes under our feet. The hard thing is 
to take the place of the rejection of Christ, and to be happy in 
keeping it. 

And now that we have viewed this chapter as the closing 
scene of the earth, the end of the age, more particularly God's 
working therein with reference to the evil of that day, it may 
be well to glance briefly at the historical application. None 
could learn the new song, it is allowed, but the 144,000 — none 
but those converted and illuminated by the Spirit of God, a 
company elected out of the Protestant nations (as before out of 
the Christianized nations under Constantine) ; and yet with 
singular inconsistency the voice of the waters and great thunders 
implied " the uniting of both nations and princes in the song." 
{Horae Apocalyjpticae, vol. iii. pp. 288, 289.) Were the Protestant 
nations ever the election of grace ? Mr. Jenour, not unreason- 
ably dissatisfied with the mere repetition of a similar class in 
Eev. vii. and xiv., tries to vary the tune, and suggests that those 
in the former chapter are a Jewish elect remnant, these in our 
chapter a Gentile one. * Now, I would press one question upon 
those inclined to either of the views mentioned: How could a 

* Dr. M'Causland {Latter Lays of Jerusalem and Rome, pp. 154-160, 398- 
400), falls into a singular cycle of errors: first, that the same company are in- 
tended in Rev. vii. xiv. ; secondly, that thoy are the faithful Jews before Christ's 
first advent; thirdly, that the second company in chapter vii. (verses 9-14) are 
in no way Gentile,, but a yet future class of the redeemed of Israel to be taken 
out of the nations, &c., whither they are now dispersed; fourthly, that these in 
chapter xiv. have the name of the Father on their foreheads^not the name of 
Christ, whereas the true text (represented by the uncials, K A B C, upwards of 
forty cursives, nearly all the ancient versions with the Greek and Latin fathers) 
expressly says "his [the Lamb's] name and his Father's name." Besides, the 
insertion of wc, "as it were," before "the new song," is by no means certain. 
It is omitted by N the Vatican and Porphyrian uncials, with nearly forty cursives, 
most versions, Origen, Methodius, Arethas, &c. 


Christian election (either under Constantine or at the Eeforma- 
tion, whether an election out of Jews or Gentiles) be styled first- 
fruits to God and to the Lamh ? If the church, strictly so called, 
will be then completed, nothing is more intelligible; but on the 
scheme which regards the testimony and the body formed there- 
by as the same continuously, a reasonable explanation does not 
appear. If it be a special gathering out of Judah, associated 
with a suffering Messiah, and anticipating the kingdom, what 
clearer ? Hence, there is no room for interpolating the declen- 
sion of the eighteenth century into the prophecy — no place for 
such additions to the words of this book as tliat " the voice of 
the 144,000 waxed fainter and feebler, and the tokens of their 
presence more obscure in all the continental Protestant countries 
and churches," while the light of England burned brighter ! 

Of the second division — the angel with everlasting glad 
tidings — enough has been said already to shew why one cannot 
allow anything save a general reference either to the era of the 
Eeformers, or to that of recent missionary societies. And I take 
this opportunity of stating my conviction that the Eeformation 
(blessed as it was in breaking the dominion of Popery, in spread- 
ing the Bible and Bible-reading far and wide, and in asserting 
strongly, if not clearly, justification by faith) did not bring out 
the light of God even as to regeneration, and maintained sub- 
stantially the same clerical system as before. That is, reformed 
doctrine and polity fail utterly, as a confession of the truth of 
the Holy Ghost's operations, whether in quickening souls or 
yet more in His sovereign action in the Christian assembly. 
Justification, as then understood, did not necessarily suppose 
perception of God's mind as to the operations of the Spirit. It 
is to me clear and certain that the reformed national bodies 
have never been free from confusion and even error on these 
subjects, which are of capital moment both to individuals and 
to the church. 

One might have expected that, if the proclamation of Baby- 
lon's fall (verse 8) had been fulfilled, those who so think would 
have tried to make out some shew of facts to account for its 
appearance here, after the epoch of evangelic missions. It may 
be alleged that it is something yet future. But such does not 


appear to be Mr. E.'s opinion, because he joins on the message 
of this angel, with hardly a shred of comment, to that of the 
angel evangelist; and he distinctly dwells on the third flying 
angel as yet unfulfilled. May we not then press the query : 
What has taken place at all adequately answering to the second 
angel's mission? 

As to the third flying angel, Mr. E. thinks its prefiguration 
requires, among other things, a sufiiciently general agreement 
among Christ's faithful Protestant servants, as to what is meant 
both by the beast and the beast's image, to give weight to the 
judgment denounced against their worshij)pers. That is, if I 
understand him, there ought to be a general acquiescence in 
the system of the Horae Aijocalypticac, an abandonment of all 
reference to the secular Eoman empire, and an adoption of the 
discovery that the beast's image means the general councils of 
Papal Christendom, especially of Trent. I am assured that the 
impression on the mind of most intelligent Christians is growingly 
opposed to such theories, and the absoluteness of the warning 
as to any individual who worships the beast, &c., cannot (save 
by a violence which convinces no dispassionate person) be said 
to be fulfilled in Popery, abominable as the system is. In the 
crisis of antichrist it will be literally true. (Compare 2 Thess. 
ii. 10-12.) 

Tlie harvest and the vintage call for no especial remark, as 
there is no question of their futurity, and Christ is admitted to 
be viewed therein as the initiator and completer of these final 
judgments. Why they should not indicate the time of His 
great predicted second advent does not clearly appear {H. A., 
vol. iv. p. 11) : in reality there is no ground to doubt it, as far 
as I see. The fact of a distinct subsequent vision of the con- 
flict with the beast does not hinder this. They may all well be 
various presentations of judgment when He comes in the clouds 
of heaven. The error is the reducing as much as possible to 
events in providence. 



We are now come to a new division of the book. The last 
three chapters (xii, xiii. xiv.) formed a most important portion 
to themselves ; they gave the whole history of the closing deal- 
ings of God, and of the last plans of Satan, as far as the present 
dispensation is concerned. And not only that, but before either 
Satan's ways or God's dealings were brought out, the hidden 
source of both was entered into. We saw in chapter xii. the 
victorious man child born, and the dragon and his angels cast 
down from heaven. Thus we have two great parties in the 
scene with their chiefs opposed face to face. Whatever might 
have been the instruments of Satan's power here below, seen 
in chapter xiii., and whatever the ways of God in His grace or 
in His judgments in chapter xiv., all flowed down from that 
man child, the object of Satan's fear and hatred. Then we come 
to a new subject. There was a great wonder or sign spoken of 
in chapter xii. 1. Here it is said, " And I saw another sign in 
heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven 
last plagues ; for in them is filled up the wrath of God." We 
are resuming once more the course of historical events. Under 
the last trumpet you may remember the word was, " The nations 
were wroth, and thy wrath is come." Now I think it must 
naturally strike any one that here God's wrath is come, and the 
nations not merely angry but blaspheming to the last degree. 
So far each fresh stroke of God, instead of humbling man, only 
drew out this intensity of enmity against the Lord. The seventh 
trumpet brought us up to the close in a general way ; and here 
we have some of tlie details, but not all. There were two parties 
described under the vials that we have more particularly after- 


wards. Chapter xvii. refers to Babylon and the beast in their 
mutual relations. In chapter xviii. we have the destruction of 
Babylon, and in chapter xix. the judgment of the beast. 

There is another remark also that I must make. Chapter xiv. 
gives us these events all together. We had there what may be 
called the religious actings of God — His dealing with man on 
the earth, as accountable for the use or abuse of revealed light, 
and responsible to own and worship God alone. These vials 
take up rather the outward civil history or secular condition of 
man, though the same thing may, in certain cases, have both a 
religious bearing and a secular one. For instance, look at 
Babylon : she is evidently the great corrupt and corrupting 
power in religion ; but this does not hinder Babylon from med- 
dling laj'gely in tlie things of the world. And, in fact, this is 
one of the evils which form Babylon — the bringing in the 
spirit of the world even into spiritual questions, and thus pro- 
ducing confusion, hateful to God and most seductive to men. 
Hence we get Babylon in chapter xiv. as well as in chapter xvi. 
Chapter xiv. gives us a summary of God's dealings at the end 
of the age in respect of religious matters, whether bright or 
dark : grace, testimony, and judgment. It thus helps us a good 
deal as to putting the closing events in the order in which they 
come to pass. For instance, the fall of Babylon is the third link 
brought before us in the chain of chapter xiv. First, we see 
the complete remnant of godly suffering Jews — a holy remnant, 
associated by grace with the Lamb on mount Zion. Then follows 
the testimony of everlasting glad tidings to the earth and all 
nations. And thirdly, there is the fall of Babylon. On the other 
hand, in the vials the fall of Babylon is the last of the seven. 
From this we gather that the judgments set forth by the pre- 
ceding six vials must be before the fall of Babylon. That is, 
the first six vials may be successively accomplished while the 
Jewish remnant is being formed, and the everlasting gospel is 
going out to the Gentiles. The last vial involves the fall of 
Babylon, which answers to and is the third link in the chain of 
events given us in chapter xiv. This is of importance in order 
to hinder confusion. The warning as to the worship of the 
beast, the pronounced blessedness of those who died in the 


Lord, the harvest, and the vintage of the earth, arc events 
clearly all subsequent to Babylon's fall. 

Having had then the general and orderly view of God's ways 
both in mercy and judgment, now we learn in chapter xvi. a 
part of these ways, the details of some of which are connected 
with chapter xiv. 8, and perhaps simultaneous with what pre- 
cedes that verse. It must not be supposed, therefore, that the 
vials take place after chapter xiv. ; the earlier ones might be 
poured out while the remnant tliere spoken of is being formed, 
and the testimony going on. Or tliey might occur rapidly after 
these, and before the fall of Babylon ; but certainly the last 
vial includes the fall of Babylon ; and its fall is as clearly 
before the very solemn events which follow that announcement 
in the latter part of chapter xiv. 

But now let us look a little at the scene introductory to the 
vials. " I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire." 
This is a type borrowed, though with changes, from the temple.* 

* Simple as this may appear, the force of the sea of glass has been, in my 
judgment, entirely misunderstood both here and in chap. iv. by Mr. Elliott and 
others. Thus, in the Ilorac Apoc, i.pp. 84, 85, the singular error of Vitringa is 
adopted, which confounds it mth the firmament like the terrible crystal of 
Ezekiel; and in a note it is objected to the true reference, (1) That John is 
describing what was in the inner sanctuary, not in the court without ; (2) That it 
is represented as of glass, not brazen ; and (3) That there is no allusion to the 
laver in any of the Apocalyptic visions. The reply is obvious. 1. The Spirit 
of God distinctly applies the position of souls under the altar in chap. vi. to the 
souls of martyrs in heaven. Now, the altar and the laver wore equally in the 
court. Compare also chap. viii. whore both altars are found in the same 
heavenly scone, in contradistinction to the earth. 2. The vessel is not denied 
to be made of glass, but the meaning is that the sea, or what answered to it, 
was of glass, not water. 3. The last is not a reason, but an assumption of the 
vorj' question. I should bo disposed to put the converse, and to ask, whether it 
would not bo strange in the midst of temple-scenery so marked to have nothing 
answering to the molten sea. If the "sea" hero be the coimteqiart of the 
"sea" in Kings and Chronicles, then the laver is alluded to in these visions. 
Next, it is agreed {H. A., iii. pp. 46S, 469) that, were the "sea" in Rev. xv. a 
" re-montion" of that in chap, iv., the definite article ought to have been prefixed; 
nay, that even on its first mention it was entitled to the article because of its 
notoriety. Here again the answer is manifest. The seven golden lamp-stands 
of Rev. i. nobody doubts to be an allusion to the well-known candlestick of the 
Jewish sanctuary, and yet there is no article on their first occurrence. If the 
reason of its omission hero, as distinguished from the altars and the ark, is due 
to the striking dillcrencc between them (the Jewish one being single and seven- 


The tabernacle had the laver, the temple its molten sea — a 
larger vessel, but of a similar nature, in which the priests used 
to wash their feet and hands when they went in to do the 
service of the Lord. In this case it is a sea of glass, and there- 
fore not used for purification. It was not a sea of water, but 
was solid. Its being of glass indicates a state of firm and 
settled purity. It was not that which was used to cleanse, but 
the image of purity that nothing can defile. These saints are 
no longer in the circumstances where they have need of cleansing 
through the washing of water by the word. That was over. 
Now it was "a sea of glass mingled with fire;" shewing plainly 
through what circumstances those connected with that sea had 
passed. They had experienced fiery tribulation, they had 
glorified God in the fires. This plainly does not refer to the 
church. " In the world ye shall have tribulation " does apply 
to us. But this refers to a special tribulation — " the tribulation" 

branched, the Apocalyptic consisting of seven separate lamps), the same remark 
applies to our matter ; for water was the point in the Jewish temple-sea, glass is 
as express in the Apocalyptic, because the purifying of those in relation with 
it was complete. So again, it is no wonder that in chap. xv. the article is not 
prefixed, seeing that another change appears there. It is for the first time a 
sea "mingled with fire," emblematic of the excessively severe trial through 
which the victors had passed. The analogy of Apocalyptic usage also confirms 
this ; for the "beast" is anarthrous in chaps, xiii. 1, xvii. 3, though, as I agree 
with Mr. E., it is the same power already mentioned in chap. xi. 7. 

And what is ofi"ered in lieu of the temple -sea ? The burning lava of a 
volcano, or overflow of French revolutionary fury iniuidating the anti-Christian 
tei-ritory of continental Europe ; and, naturally, the harpers represent the 
triumphs of living revived Protestantism in insular England under Wilberforce 
now, as formerly there had been for others under Augustine and Luther ! As 
a sea of lava or even of water would bo an incongruous place whereon to stand, 
one cannot be surprised that " on the sea" has been changed into "by," which I 
admit the preposition will bear. On my view, however, its more ordinary 
meaning holds good. Mr. E. lays stress on Ik tov 9. k t. \. as implying not 
only conquest over, but separation from, the party conquered. Can it be 
because his supposed harpers were not in any way within the fiery scene of 
tribulation ? I should rather infer that they had been in the furnace, but were 
come victors out of all. Again, the reasoning on the present jjarticiple is 
unsound (ff. A., iii. pp. 465-467), for nothing is more common when accompanied 
by the article than its abstract use. Thus, to take the first which presents itself, 
in Matt. ii. 20, oi ^/jrouvrtf certainly does not imply that they were still in the 
field. Compare also Rev. vii. 14, said of a multitude which is anticipatively 
viewed as already in the rest of God. It is, I believe, just the same in ch. xv. 



of which scripture frequently speaks. " I saw as it were a sea 
of glass mingled with fire : and them that had gotten the victory- 
over the beast, and over his image" (clearly, then, they are 
contemporaries of the beast), " and over his mark, and over the 
number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps 
of God." Thus what is referred to here is not washing in the 
sea, but standing on it. Their earthly circumstances characterize 
them ; but the scene of conflict is now past. The Spirit of God 
anticipates all which marks those who had been troubled by the 
beast, but who are viewed as victorious over him. They were 
persons who had been cleansed already ; they had done with the 
present scene, and were now out of it all. They were standing 
on the sea of glass. Not only this, but they had " harps of God." 
That is, they are occupied with divine joy and praise, the 
contrast of all they had passed through. 

I would just observe, though it be a slight circumstance, that 
there is a short clause here which should be left out. It is said 
in verse 2, " Them that had gotten the victory over the beast, 
and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of 
his name." But the clause " and over his mark" has no business 
here whatever. The same thing occurs in chapter xiii. 17 : 
" That no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or 
the name of the beast, or the number of his name." Now the 
truth is that the little word " or" inserted there before tlie clause 
"the name of the beast" ought to disappear. The difference in 
the sense is that "the mark" might be either the name of the 
beast or the number of his name ; not some third thing distinct 
from these two, as the ordinary text might suggest. There were 
two ways in which the beast marked his followers ; one was by 
his name, and the other by the number of his name : but there 
would be no sense in saying, " the mark, or the name of the 
beast, or the number of his name." The number was his mark, 
though not the only one ; there was the name besides — the one, 
I suppose, being closer and more appropriate than the other. 
Here, tlien, were those (chapter xv.) who had gotten the victory 
over the beast, and over his image, and over the number of his 
name. Even in the English Bible the word " and over the 
number" is printed in italics, and only adds to the confusion 


with tlie words "over his mark." I refer to it to shew that 
wherever there is even such a little word as "or" introduced 
by man into the scripture, the sense is impaired. In the lan- 
guage which the Spirit uses, it is but a letter that makes the 
difference ; but you cannot even put a letter into the word of 
God without so far injuring its beauty and perfectness. Through 
the mercy of God, His children may get little harm through 
such blemishes ; but it is in part because they do not think 
enough about it. If they were to work a system out of them, 
they might fall into some serious mistake in not a few cases. 
But happily (this is the way God mercifully shields them) they 
do not really receive the false doctrine ; they do not know what 
it means, and therefore leave it. But evidently God is little 
honoured where persons merely escape error because they do 
not understand it. It is the mercy of God thus to preserve His 
people from evil ; but it is His overruling hand rather than the 
intelligent guidance of the Spirit. The book of Revelation has 
suffered more than any other from the carelessness of man ; and 
as we are looking into its contents, and it seems desirable for 
God's children to have clear thoughts about His word, I thought 
it better to notice it, however small a matter it may appear. I 
remember having myself been perplexed to make out the dif- 
ference between the mark of the beast and its name and its 
number. But having examined the question more closely, I 
found that there was really nothing to decide about. A little 
fox had slipped in and spoiled the vine. In short, the mark 
was not something different from the name or its number, but 
was the general term for both — the name expressing probably 
a more intimate and entire subjection to the beast than the 
number of his name. 

Those who had won the victory over the beast were not his 
creatures or slaves ; far from it — they were the servants of God. 
Here they were seen standing in conscious victory, outside all 
the scene of their conflicts, having the harps of God. And they 
sing : it is intelligent praise. " They sing the song of Moses, 
the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb." There is a 
double character in their praise, quite different from the song 
of the elders. It is very blessed, but not the same thing. The 

z 2 


strain of the elders was far deeper. These saints are not here 
spoken of as priests of God, much less the heads of heavenly 
priesthood ; nor have they the emblems of royal dignity. They 
sing the song of Moses. They were true saints, but with 
an undoubtedly Jewish character. They sing the song of the 
Lamb too. If they did not know the Saviour, they would not 
be saints at all. But withal they sing the song of Moses. They 
will not stand exactly in the Christian position that we now 
enjoy. They will be in circumstances of trial, when the church 
has passed out of the scene into heaven. But still the Lord will 
have a company of saints then who will suffer for Him even 
unto death; for the beast has power to slay — and it may be 
thus that, by their own blood as well as by the blood of the 
Lamb,* they gain the victory over him. 

Here they are seen at rest, like Israel of old, on the triumphant 
side of the Eed Sea, to which there seems an allusion ; as the 
plagues of the next chapter clearly refer to those that fell upon 
the land of Eg}'pt. " They sing the song of Moses the servant 
of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous 
are thy works, Lord God the Almighty; just and true are 
thy ways, thou King of the nations" (verse 3). Now if we look 
at Psalm ciii. 7, we find that the Holy Ghost brings into pro- 
minence these two things — the ways of Jehovah and His acts. 
" He made known his ways unto INIoses, his acts unto tlie chil- 
dren of Israel." The distinction is between the deep hidden 
ways of the Lord which Moses knew, and the public acts Mdiich 
were conspicuous before all Israel. Here these saints take up, 
not His ways first, but His displayed works. " Great and mar- 
vellous are thy works, Lord God the Almighty." And then 
they rise to celebrate His ways. " Just and true are thy ways, 
thou King of the nations" — I must say so, for King of saints is 
a thing unknown in any part of the Bible. But King of nations, 
given in the margin, is most true. It is a reference to Jeremiah 
X. : " Thou art great (verse G), and thy name is great in miglit. 
Who would not fear thee, King of nations ?" 

Just to shew the general truth, I would observe that, while 
Christ is King, yea King of kings and Lord of lords, and while 

* Of courae, the Lamb's blood alone avails for sin with God. 

cheist's relation to saints. 341 

it is our joy to acknowledge it (for Christians indeed are the 
only persons now who rightly know the Lord Jesus to be 
King), yet it is remarkable how the Holy Ghost avoids calling 
Him King in relation to the church. I am aware that well- 
known hymns may speak of Him as " Our Prophet, Priest, and 
King," Scripture often calls Him King, but never in that 
relation to us.* Of course, the object of God's word is not to 
weaken our subjection to Christ. Whatever weakens that comes 
not from the Spirit, but from Satan. But is it not plain, that 
the relation of a king and people is not so close and binding, 
neither is it so full and all-embracing in its authority, nor does 
it involve such elements of affection, as the relationship of 
Bridegroom or of the Head ? And this is the way in which 
scripture views the church. There is the deepest and most con- 
stant subjection, but it is that of members to their Head, of the 
bride to the Bridegroom. Thus is the church subject to Christ. 
It is true that we are translated into the kingdom of God's dear 
Son, but in what capacity ? He has made us kings in it. So we 
are represented as singing in the first chapter of this very pro- 
phecy, " Unto him that loveth us, and hath washed us from our 
sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto 
God and his Father." 

While it is perfectly certain, then, that we are in the king- 
dom, yet are we there not as subjects, though assuredly subject. 
We joyfully own Christ as our Lord, whose grace has made us 
kings with him, and not as a mere people at a distance under 
Him. This in no way lessens our responsibility to obey Him, 
any more than it takes from His glory. It puts us in the place 
of shewing obedience on a firmer ground and from hioher 
motives ; it is not the weakness of flesh under law, but the 

* Mr. Elliott hesitatingly inclines to "King of ages" in his text) H. A. iii. 
p. 473) up to the last edition ; but in his note, supported by N C and a Paris cursive 
Coislin 202, with the Vulgate and other versions, he ventured the opinion that the 
(undoubtedly false) vulgar reading ayiatv seems " best of all to suit the context." 
To me this reluctance to bow to the best reading iOvuiv (supported by the Alex. 
Porph. and Vat. uncials, forty-five cursives, the iEthiopic, Arabic of the Poly- 
glotts, Coptic, not to speak of the correction in the Sinai MS., Slav. MSS., 
Greek and some Latin fathers) is not happy. I am glad however to see that he 
omits this, and seems content with the better authorities in his fifth edition. 
Page 461 by a misprint gives C as well as A for tQvwv : it sliould be B. 


heart purified by faith and strengthened by grace. He fills us 
with a sense of the glory, of which we are joint-heirs with 
Himself. He raises us in hope to the throne ; but the effect is 
that, even in heaven, we shall fall down and cast our crowns 
before Him. He loves that our obedience should take as it were 
the form of worship. So we see how the Lord preserves these 
two things intact. On the one hand, He delights that we should 
look up and know that the Lord Jesus is ever immeasurably 
above us; but then, on the other hand, Christ has set us now in 
earnest of the Spirit, as by and by in possession, on thrones, 
that He may shew that it is not merely as servants, nor as a 
people that we are subject, but as those whom His perfect and 
divine love has associated with Himself; for we are one with 
Him. He will put us on thrones around Him — on His own 
throne ; but even then subjection to Christ can never disappear. 
Never will it be anything else, whether in the kingdom or in 
the eternal state. Wherever you look, never can the church so 
far forget what she owes her Lord and Bridegroom as to wisli it 
otherwise. It were to abuse His grace to take from His glory ; 
and the church must and ought to resent that. If the elders at 
the sight only of His taking the book fall down before the Lamb 
and worship, much more should the thought of any indignity 
offered to Him call forth the strongest feelings of indignation 
and horror. The church may be and is loved of Christ ; but in 
anywise to take equal ground with Him were to display that 
spirit of antichrist, " whereof we have heard that it shall come, 
and even now already is it in the world." 

" Just and true are thy ways, thou King of nations." If I 
apprehend aright, the reason why "nations" are introduced here 
is tliat these vials were about to be poured out very particularly 
ui)on the Gentiles. Under the trumpets, and in chapters xii.-xiv., 
we liad the Jews, or at least the Jewish remnant, in an especial 
way the object of covenant mercy. The very phrase (chapter 
xi.), " the ark of the covenant," connects itself with that nation ; 
for the covenant was made with them. Therefore we saw too 
that tlie woman in tlie next chapter (xii.) represented Israel. 
Tlien we had the remnant of godly Jews, (xiv.) But now 
these saints are celebrating tlie righteous ways of (Jod witli 


the Gentiles, or nations. He is King of nations — not merely 
of the Jews. Jewish relationships appear in both, but they are 
distinct visions, oi>ened each by a very different sign. 

" Who shall not fear thee, Lord, and glorify thy name ? for 
thon only art holy : for all nations shall come and worship before 
thee ; for thy judgments were made manifest." The word used 
for "holy" here is an unusual one. It is the same that is used 
where scripture speaks of the mercies of David, and its Hebrew 
counterpart is frequently found in the Psalms. For there are 
two words in both languages to express holiness. There is the 
common word for " holy," which, for instance, occurs in Eev. iv. 
" Holy, holy, holy. Lord God Almighty." It always implies 
separation from evil — absolute separation. The holiness spoken 
of here implies mercy, which is quite another thought. We are 
about to hear of the vials, and the first thought would be, "how 
dreadful !" God's wrath is going to be fulfilled. But who and 
what is the God whose wrath is about to be consummated ? He 
whose holiness is full of mercy. " Thou only art holy." It is 
the holiness of mercy. " For all nations shall come and worship 
before thee; for thy judgments were made manifest." They look 
through the judgments, and they see tlie end always is that 
" the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy." So that, though 
this storm of judgment may be about to fall, they look to the 
end from the beginning, and they celebrate accordingly the 
holiness of the One who in judgment remembers mercy. No 
doubt there must be wrath, and God must complete it ; because 
the first outpouring of it will only make men more hardened. 
But let it be observed, it is not a question of Christ ; there is no 
such thing as the wrath of the Lamb here, not even in men's 
minds ; it is the wrath of God. In chapter xiv. He who reaps 
the harvest is the Son of man. But liere God acts according to 
His own part, before Christ comes from heaven to execute wrath. 
This indicates that the vials end before the final judgments of 
chapter xiv. commence, because the close of the chapter shews us 
the Son of man coming Himself to execute judgment. 

And therefore they can say as they look up, " Who shall not 
fear thee, Lord ? ... for thou only art holy : for all nations 
shall come and worship before thee ; for thy judgments were 


made manifest" (verse 4). Another important truth ; for, as 
we are told in Isaiah xxvi., as long as God deals in mercy, 
what does man ? He takes advantage of it, and refuses to "learn 
righteousness." But the time comes when the Lord will lift up 
His arm in judgment ; and what then ? " When thy judgments 
are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn right- 
eousness." So here, " All nations shall come and worship before 
thee ; for thy judgments were made manifest." Such would be 
the ultimate result. 

The prophet again looks, " And the temple * of the tabernacle 
of the testimony in heaven was opened" (verse 5). Mark the 
difference. In verse 19 of chapter xi. (which introduces the 
scene of chapters xii.-xiv. before the vials) the temple was 
opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant seen ; but no ark 
appears now. There it was the fit pledge of the security of 
God's faithfulness — of His unchanging purposes towards His 
people Israel. But here His enemies are in question rather 
than His people ; and there is nothing but the tabernacle of the 
testimony, which is inaugurated as it were in judgments on the 
men of the earth. It is opened for wrath as yet, not for gospel 
triumphs. It is God's testimony judicially to the condition of 
man. Man is guilty : what then could result ? " The seven 
angels came out of the temple." And terrible to say, they come 
out of that in wliich no ark was now seen. And wliat would 
be, what is, the effect? Nothing but wratli — the more awful 
because it flows from the sanctuary. They "came out of the 
temple, having the seven plagues." This was all that God could 
do for man now. " Clothed in pure and white linen, and having 
their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four 
living creatures" — the great presiding executors of the provi- 
dential judgments of God — " gave unto the seven angels seven 

♦ It is extraordinary that the author of the Horae Apoc. should say that vaoQ 
or temple is sometimes used more largely of the whole, including the altar- 
court; stranger still that he should cite Rev. xi. 1, 2, in proof, seeing that the 
altar and the outer court are so expressly distinguished there (as I believe 
always). There is another word to comprehend all, namely, Upov, which is 
ju;ver used in the Apocalypse, though it occurs repeatedly in other parts of the 
New Testament. So also the door of the tabernacle and the hanging at the 
court-gate are not con founded in .scripture. 


golden vials." The word means bowls or cups, and is taken 
from the vessels used for pouring out drink-offerings, &c., before 
the Lord. It is not drink-offerings now, but wrath coming down 
from God — " seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who 
liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke 
from the glory of God, and from his power; and no one was 
able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven 
angels were fulfilled." Thus, neither present worship of God 
nor intercession was any longer possible. It was vain for any 
one to attempt entering there : the smoke of the fire of God's 
righteous anger filled the temple, the smoke proving the fire 
that was there. Thus there was no possibility for any one, not 
even for a priest, to enter. None could draw near now : wrath, 
the smoke of judgment, filled it. Just as at Sinai, where smoke 
is represented as going up from the mountain as the smoke of a 
furnace ; and as in Psalm xviii., " There went up a smoke out 
of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured." So now 
there is the image of God's offended majesty against sin. There 
was nothing He looked upon here below that called for mercy 
on their behalf. The time was past for intercession. Accord- 
ingly the judgments rolled forth, and the wrath of God is finished 
(verse 6-8). 



Now I must say a little on the details of God's judgments in 
cliapter xvi. It is a painful subject and humbling, when we 
think that this is the declared end of man's vaunted progress. 
I will endeavour, then, briefly to glance at these seven plagues. 
"And I heard a loud voice out of the temple, saying to the 
seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath 
of God unto the earth" (verse 1). Wrath is no longer restricted 
to the third or fourth part, but the whole scene is given up to 
judgment. There is not only an increase of severity, but the 
whole of that which had once the light of God, and had far 
and wide enjoyed outward privileges, is in complete apostacy, 
and given up to His wrath. 

" And the first went away and poured out his vial unto the 
earth; and there came a noisome and grievous sore upon the 
men which had the mark of the beast, and them which wor- 
shipped his image. And the second poured out his vial unto 
the sea," &c. 

The first four vials resembled the trumpets in this, that they 
both fall on the earth and sea, on the rivers and fountains of 
water, and finally on the sun. There may be certain differ- 
ences ; for in the trumpet it was the third part only of the sun 
that was smitten. Here it is simply said, " the sun." Still it 
was the same sort of sphere. Further, I think the objects of 
these plagues, the earth, sea, &c., are not to be taken in a merely 
literal way. The language is symbolical. Not that tliere would 
be to my own mind the slightest difficulty in believing that 
God could do these things in a literal way, if this were His will. 
Ho has turned the waters of Egypt into blood, filled a kingdom 
with darkness, and inflicted plagues similar to what we have 


here : so that there is no difficulty in conceiving such a thing 
again. But the only question is, whether this is what we are 
to gather from the chapter before us. I think it is not; and 
that God here alludes to plagues that were once literal in the 
land of Egypt, but that are now referred to symbolically, repre- 
senting certain judgments of God. First, the ordered and settled 
parts of the world are smitten as with an ulcerous distemper, 
where men were branded with subjection to the apostate civil 
power and his idolatry. Next, there is a judgment on the sea ; 
that is, on the outside regions, where profession of life quite died 
out. The third, I conceive, represents by rivers people formed 
into a separate condition of nationality, like waters flowing in a 
distinct channel, under special local influence ; and by the foun- 
tains rather the springs of a nation's prosperity. All the active 
principles assume the form of death. The third judgment comes 
down to smaller details than the former ones. The fourth is on 
the public supreme authority. 

In verses 5-7 we have a word or two which, when corrected 
or rightly read, adds to the full force and clearness of the 
passage : " Thou art righteous, Lord, which art, and wast," &c, 
I noted (on chap, xi.) that the words, " and shalt be," were of 
no force at all here, and that another word is the best attested — 
" the Holy One." It is the very same word that occurs in the 
fourth verse of chapter xvi. — the less usual one for "holy." 
Before these vials are poured out, God is celebrated in His 
merciful holiness. " Thou art righteous." This was plain, for 
God was pouring out His wrath upon men in their iniquity, just 
because He was righteous. But more than this — "which art 
and wast, the Holy One." Before the vials are poured out, and 
now again while they are in course of pouring out, that remains 
true. The angel of the waters attests His graciousness, even 
while He was judging thus, which might have seemed to 
contradict it. He too, from below, answers to the song above. 
If the saints, at rest on the sea of glass, celebrate Him as 
merciful in holiness, the angel confirms it. 

" For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and 
thou gavest them blood to drink ; they are worthy" (verse 6). 
There was righteous retribution — they were worthy in an awful 


sense. "And I heard," not another out of the altar, but "I 
heard the altar say" (verse 7). It may seem extraordinary to 
speak of " the altar saying," and no doubt the other words were 
put in because people thought it so strange. But there is 
nothing really contrary to prophetic usage if it be taken in a 
symbolical w^ay. No person would intentionally foist a difficulty 
into scripture : but it is too common to try and remove that 
which is not understood out of the word, thus to make it plain 
according to ordinary modes of thought. Besides, you have 
what might prepare the way for it elsewhere. In chapter ix. 13, 
it is said, " I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden 
altar which is before God." Here (chap, xvi.) the figure goes 
farther : the voice is said to be that of the altar itself To me 
it confirms what we have had various occasions to remark — the 
fact and impropriety of men's meddling with scripture. " I 
heard the altar say" has great force for this reason. In an 
earlier part of the book, the souls of those that were " slain for 
the word of God, and for the testimony which they held," were 
seen under the altar. Now here that altar which had witnessed 
their blood is said to cry out to God, and to own that His judg- 
ments are true and righteous. In the first book of the Bible, 
the earth is spoken of as crying out to God about the blood of 
Abel : much more should not the altar cry about the blood of God's 
martyred saints ? To my own mind it is uncommonly pertinent. 
If it had been merely an angel, this would have been a com- 
paratively distant link ; for an angel, though ministering for 
them who shall be heirs of salvation, does not enter so directly 
into their sufferings, and can scarcely be said to have immediate 
sympathy with them. But God not only had seen the bones of 
His slaughtered saints scattered upon the cold mountains, as 
poets sing, but regards His saints as so many burnt-offerings, 
rising up before Him whose blood, or rather the altar which 
witnessed it, calls for indignation and wrath. The Lord may 
seem to slumber for a season, but when He awakes, as one out 
of sleep, He will surely avenge their blood on them that dwell 
on the earth. And now it is at hand. Great Babylon had not 
yet come into remembrance, though from the beginning the 
special corruptress of the truth, and drunken with the blood of 


the saints. But meanwhile the altar could not hold its peace, 
and the Lord listens and hears. For the God who heeds the 
groans of the creature will surely answer the altar's cry about 
His slain ones. 

"And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and 
power was given unto him to scorch men with fire" (verse 8). 
It is a judgment on the sun, the figure of supreme government ; 
so that what ought to have been the means of light and comfort 
— that greater light which rules the day — now becomes the 
means of scorching men with fire. The effect of its tyranny is 
intolerable. "And men were scorched with great heat, and 
blasphemed the name of God, which had authority over these 
plagues : and they repented not to give him glory" (verse 9). 

" And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the throne of 
the beast," &c. (verse 10.) We are now entering upon a some- 
what different class of judgments; for the last three vials differ 
from the first four, just as the last three trumpets had a different 
character from the rest. And so with the seals also. It is 
evident that the fifth, sixth, and seventh vials are apart from 
the preceding four. The judgment falls upon the throne of the 
beast and upon his kingdom — not upon the beast himself, who 
is apparently untouched by these vials. He is reserved for the 
judgment of the Lord Jesus Himself at His coming, and will 
be destroyed by His appearing. Here the stroke is merely upon 
the seat of his authority ; and just as of old king Pharaoh was 
hardened, so here men blasphemed the God of heaven, and 
repented not of their deeds (verse 11). When God manifests 
Himself as the God of the earth, this will not be possible. 

"And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great 
river Euphrates, and the water thereof was dried up, that the 
way of the kings" — not exactly of the east, but — "that are from 
the east might be prepared" (verse 12). The Euphrates was 
the great eastern boundary of the Eonian empire : it was the 
regular line to which they carried their conquests. So that the 
drying up of the Euphrates would seem to mean that this side 
of the empire would be left open as a way for the eastern powers 
to come and mingle with those of the west, or to assault them. 


One effect of this vial, then, would be the removal of tlie 
eastern barrier, and thus the way of the kings from the east is 
prepared probably for the great closing conflicts. 

But there is more than this. " I saw out of the mouth of the 
draiion, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth 
of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs"* (ver. 13). 
It is just before the end. These murmuring spirits issued out of 
the mouth of the three powers which we have seen in chapter 
xiii. : out of the dragon, the open enemy of Christ ; out of the 
beast, the revived Roman Empire ; and out of the false prophet, 
the ecclesiastical beast that had lamb-like horns, imitating 
Christ's power, but now spoken of only in his deceptive re- 
ligious character. " For they are the spirits of demons, working 
signs, who go forth unto the kings of the whole habitable world, 
to gather them unto the battle of [that] great day of God the 
Almighty." This confirms what I have just stated about the 
Euphrates. It is a general collision of the kings of all the 
habitable world. Not only the western powers are arrayed for 
the war, but the eastern also. It is the great day. 

But now comes an important parenthesis. As was shewn 
under the sixth seal and the sixth trumpet, so here we find an 

* Most readers of the Horae Apoe. will remember that, after giving evidence 
of the working of the frog-like unclean spirits in England (the draconic spirit of 
hcathcn-liko anti-social infidelity, the Popish spirit, the Tractariun spirit), Mr. 
E. recurs to the hopeful strain of a bright future for his country, and conjectures 
that France may bo tho country called to the bad pre-eminence of being the chief 
secular power employed by those demons to gather the world's powers to the 
last great war of Armageddon. " There is a curious heraldic fact," he adds, (vol. 
iii. pp. 5133, o3 1) " accordant with this viow, which (considering how frequently 
such national emblems have been had in viow in tho Apocalyjjtic figurations'! I 
cannot permit myself to pass over in silence, though by no moans wishing to 
insist much on it; viz., that, as (he three ,sj)irits do each and all most assuredly 
energize in the French nation and priesthood, so their Apocalyptic symbol, the 
three frogs, aro the old arms of France." And then wo have a plate in illustra- 
tion of the alleged fact, with some subjoined annotations. Now, it happens that 
natural history comes in as an awkward witness here, for tho "fact" turns out 
that Mr. E. confounds crapaud with grenouille ; or, as tho Eitcijclopicdia Metro- 
politana say (and so Court de Gobelin), cited by himself, the arms of France, as 
somo affirm, boar three loads sable, &c. In a word, in order to convey correctly 
such a reference, the Greek should have been wf (ppiivoi, rather than (iarpaxoi. 
Fuur other authons lie produces say frogs; luit llii.s sixnis loose, and not to set 
aside tho more precise word. Of course / tliink the point trilling in the extreme. 


interruption also. "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he 
that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, 
and they see his shame" (verse 15). It is the Lord coming, but 
then He is coming in judgment to surprise the earth ; and this 
is the reason why the figure is used. The thief comes unex- 
pected and unwelcome: still more unpalatable will be the Lord's 
coming to the earth. But there will be saints to whom it will 
be welcome, to whom His appearing will bring deliverance by 
the judgment of their enemies. And they are enjoined to watch 
closely the daily life. . " Behold, I come as a thief." Not so the 
Lord presents Himself to us,